MARS LANDER

Anyone remember that we are sending a lander to Mars that is about the size of an automobile, and powered by nuclear isotope decay?

It’s currently on its final approach to Mars.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Science_Laboratory

http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl

Landing time should be:

August 6, 2012, 1:31 AM Eastern Time

August 5, 2012, 10:31 PM Pacific Time

It is an unusually complex landing, even by space probe standards, and Mars is sort of the Bermuda Triangle of the Solar System when it comes to space probes, so we’re going to need lots of good luck to get this thing on the surface in one piece.  But who knows, maybe we’ll pull it off.

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20 thoughts on “MARS LANDER”

  1. Thanks for the links everyone since I’m up at this time I’ll try and watch it live from the Red plant. I sure hope it all goes well. NASA announced yesterday that they awarded contracts to start on the next generation of the shuttle to get to the ISL

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  2. I suspect the best live coverage will be the NASA Channel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_TV

    That’s 212 on Dish Network, and 346 on DirecTV.

    It is probably somewhere on most cable systems too.

    Channel 212 on Dish says as the program name “this channel is moving to 286”.

    As of right now they have the NASA Channel at both numbers, and I doubt 212 will go dark tonight. But if 212 is dark on Dish tonight, try 286.

    I think this is actually the third time I’ve seen Dish move the NASA Channel over the years. Not sure why they keep moving it around.

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  3. Note that we might not have live coverage of the landing.

    We should receive tones from the lander as the landing progresses up to the deployment of the parachute, but the parachute deployment tone will be our last “direct” contact with the lander for awhile.

    They are trying to retask Mars Odyssey to track the landing and relay the data in real time, but they won’t know until 10 to 15 minutes before the landing whether they have succeeded in reorienting the satellite or not.

    If not, they will have to have other orbiters record the data and play it back for us with an 8 to 10 hour delay.

    And if there is some sort of glitch that prevents the lander from communicating with the orbiters, we will not get confirmation until it emits its “I’m here on the ground and ready to go” tone 19 hours after the landing, at 8:30 PM Eastern, 5:30 PM Pacific, tomorrow evening.

    So it is possible even with a good landing that we’ll have a whole day of silence after the parachute deploy tone, possible that we’ll have live coverage of all the events as they happen, and possible that it’ll be somewhere in-between.

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  4. Perfect landing.

    And the orbiter they were hoping would relay live telemetry, worked flawlessly.

    Even the extra things that they didn’t even think they’d get, they got. Like getting small images from the lander within a minute of landing.

    The orbiting craft is out of range of the lander now. It’ll be back in range of the lander in a couple hours (3:30 AM Eastern Time), and they’ll likely get more images then.

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  5. I always think the high-res orbiter pics of the landings are cool. Just think, this is a satellite launched from earth taking a photograph of a lander launched from earth, all coming to us from mars.

    Curosity Parachute

    (Click the image for the NASA page, click the image there to embiggen.)

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  6. They’ve actually found the falling heat shield in that picture now too, lower down from the parachuting orbiter:

    http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA15993.jpg

    And here’s one they haven’t captioned yet:

    http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA15988.jpg

    My guess it’s either the lander descending from space pre-parachute, or it’s a picture of the heat shield falling away from the descending lander.

    And here are bigger ground-level pictures. They are processed to remove the distortion of the fisheye lens, which probably means added distortion around the edges, but which also makes the horizon look more real:

    Front:
    http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA15986.jpg

    Back:
    http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA15987.jpg

    Except for the one that hasn’t been captioned yet, these are all probably too big to display inline, so I’ll just link to them.

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  7. NASA’s Curiosity rover has transmitted a low-resolution video showing the last 2 1/ 2 minutes of its white-knuckle dive through the Martian atmosphere, giving earthlings a sneak peek of a spacecraft landing on another world.

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  8. Pretty cool footage.

    Curiosity lands on Mars: Video of the big drop plus play-by-play.

    “When I first heard of this mission and the ‘sky crane’ approach for landing on Mars … my immediate thought was ‘they need to put a video camera on that thing!’ ” Fitch said in an email to the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. “Sure enough, they did, so I’m happy to share the results.”

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