rover Curiosity 3D rendering

The Curiosity Mars rover (picture courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Join scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy and Hawaiʻi Institute of Geophysics and Planetology as they watch and discuss the landing of the NASA rover Curiosity on Mars on Sunday, August 5, 6 p.m. at the Institute for Astronomy.

UH Mānoa scientists will be watching NASA TV’s live feed of the event. The Curiosity rover is expected to land inside Gale Crater at approximately 7:30 p.m. Hawai’i time.

Curiosity’s “seven minutes of terror”

Curiosity is NASA’s most advanced planetary rover and getting it to the surface of Mars will not be easy. The landing has been described as “seven minutes of terror.” The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity must decelerate from approximately 13,200 miles per hour to a safe 1.7 miles per hour.

To land the one-ton rover NASA will use a “sky crane” method during the final several seconds of the flight. A backpack with retro-rockets controlling descent speed will lower the rover on three nylon cords just before touchdown.

As part of its two year mission, Curiosity will investigate whether an area with a wet history inside the Gale Crater ever has offered an environment favorable for microbial life.

Read more about Curiosity and its mission on NASA’s website

View a NASA video that explains why mission planners called Curiosity’s descent “the seven minutes of terror.”

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