Giant rover to make ‘terrifying’ landing on Mars
July 16th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Giant rover to make ‘terrifying’ landing on Mars

No spacecraft has ever landed like this before and NASA admits it’ll be a wild ride.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover, a 2,000 pound (900 kilogram) SUV-sized robotic science laboratory, is scheduled to touch down on August 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT.

The $2.5 billion rover started its journey on November 26, 2011, with launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its mission is to figure out whether its landing site, Gale Crater,  was ever home to microbial life. Curiosity has 10 science experiments on board and is equipped with a robot arm that can drill into rocks. Curiosity can climb over obstacles up to 25 inches (65 centimeters) high and can travel about 660 feet (200 meters) per day.

Mission managers say Curiosity's trip to Mars has been “outstanding,” but the landing will be the hardest ever attempted, according to John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington.

“This is risky business,” he said at media briefing on Monday.

The rover’s size – it's 9 feet, 10 inches long and 9 feet, 1 inch wide - makes it too heavy to land with airbags like earlier rovers. Instead, NASA will use what it calls the “sky crane touchdown system.” The landing is so complicated, NASA made a video about it called “Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror.”

A parachute will slow the rover as it plummets toward the Martian surface, and then a rocket backpack will slow it even more and guide it to the landing site. The “sky crane” deploys, leaving the rover hanging by nylon cords just above the ground. After the rover’s wheels touch down, the cords are cut and the rocket backpack speeds away and crashes.

"Is it crazy?" asked Mars Exploration Program Manager Doug McCuistion. No, not if you understand it, he said.

Is it risky?

"Landing on Mars is always risky," McCuistion said. The rover will go from 13,000 mph to zero in seven minutes and there are hundreds of things that can go wrong, he said.

"Mars throws things at you. Dust storms, atmospheric density changes, wind," he said. "It's a very unique and a very challenging environment."

He likened the landing to a game of dominoes. If one one of them is out of place, McCuistion said, it's likely the last domino won't fall and the rover may "hit the ground harder than we want it too."

So, is the rover landing crazy? You decide. Here are the key moments in the landing:

The rover, packed into its travel case (cruise stage), along with its protective back shell, a rocket backpack, heat shield and parachute, arrives at Mars on August 6 traveling at a zippy 13,200 mph (5,900 meters per second).

Ten minutes before it enters Mars’ atmosphere, the rover’s cruise stage will be jettisoned. A minute later, small rockets on Curiosity’s protective back shell fire to stop the spacecraft from spinning (the spinning helped stabilize the craft during its trip from Earth, but the motion is no longer needed). The spacecraft will rotate so that its heat shield faces forward to protect it from the fiery heat of entry. Two tungsten weights - each weighing about 165 pounds (75 kilograms) – are ejected. This will help shift the mass of the spacecraft and generate lift.

The spacecraft then will fly in a series of “S” curves to keep it on course. The spacecraft’s computer controls this motion – NASA calls it “guided entry.” The exact amount of time until touchdown will be determined by how much maneuvering the spacecraft has to make. NASA says it will take between six and seven minutes.

After the spacecraft finishes “S” curves, it drops more weights.

Then the nail-biter part begins:

-7 miles up (11 kilometers) - a giant parachute is deployed to slow the spacecraft.

-5 miles up (8 kilometers) - the heat shield is jettisoned. An onboard camera (Mars Descent Imager) begins recording video of the ground.

-1 mile up (1.6 kilometers) and speeding toward the ground at 180 mph (80 meters per second) – the  back shell, with the parachute attached, separates from the rover and its rocket backpack. The rocket backpack's eight retrorockets begin firing to slow the rover’s descent to less than 2 mph (0.75 meters per second).

-66 feet up (20 meters) and about 12 seconds before touchdown - nylon cords lower the rover from the rocket backpack in the “sky crane” maneuver. The rover’s wheels and suspension system double as the landing gear.

After touchdown, the nylon cords are cut and the rocket backpack flies away to crash down a safe distance from the rover.

Curiosity will be "ready to rove" upon landing and its computer begins activities on the first day at Gale Crater.

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (345 Responses)
  1. THX1953

    It is a mechanical device.

    I doubt it was "Terrified"

    July 17, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • ScottCA

      Obviously they meant terrifying for those who have invested large sums of time, money and hope in the device and those that are planning to operate it.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • Tom

        Nothing like a 2.5 billion dollar "terrifying" gamble on something that people have failed in the past. If this doesn't work again, maybe next time we can just flush the taxpayer money down the toilet and save all the time and energy.

        July 20, 2012 at 10:57 am |
      • casdfase3

        in reply to tom, if it does work, we can throw you in shackles for being part of the species that holds us back from space exploration due to your nonsense fantasy beliefs

        July 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
      • Gumby

        Tom, the entire 50+ year budget of NASA is less than the money allotted just for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. NASA has given us countless benefits in terms of spinoff technology that amount to much more than its 50-odd year budget. How have the Iraq and Afghanistan wars benefited us?

        July 22, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Pete

      @THX1953 – This is CNN. Sensationalistic headlines are more important than facts. And those facts need to be phrased in such a way that a fourth grader can understand the basic premise.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  2. Nonimus

    This is very cool stuff. Although the video was overly dramatic, it did show the different stages clearly. I'm glad they mention the dust cloud and equipment damage to Curiosity, as I didn't understand why they needed the sky-crane. Still not sure that some sort of covering wouldn't have solved that problem, but I don't have all the data.

    Too bad they couldn't get Spirit or Opportunity to take pictures of the landing. Mars rovers' home movies... lol. yeah right.

    July 17, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  3. Yes1fan

    Anybody know what happened to the Mars Plane project?
    Makes a lot more sense to me to scout the entire planet in a lot more detail than the MRO can provide, THEN pick landing sites, THEN send rovers. Plus, they wouldn't actually have to LAND that one....

    July 17, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • JimfromBham

      NASA funding is down to something like $19.5B per year. They need stories like this one to stay in the news.

      I agree – a more systemic study of the potential landing sites might have been better science, but I doubt that they had the funding for it. Too bad.

      July 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • pappawbagby

      I though that's what all the satellites taking pictures of every square inch of Mars for years, picking the most opportune spot, were for?

      July 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • MarshallM

      There are nearly 25,000 high resolution photos of the surface of Mars that YOU can see for yourself at http://hirise dot lpl dot arizona dot edu/katalogos dot php. The landing site was chosen because photo, spectrographic and radar images aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined that Gale Crater once could have been home to a water lake.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  4. Aged P

    Oh, wow! The video left me holding my breath.

    It's unfortunate that so many have either forgotten, or never knew, the excitement generated by the early years of the space program. The men and women of the space program were our heroes. Now, instead of being awed by the potential of science, we get all wound up over the Kardashians or what the latest celebrity du jour is up to. Thanks to n2video for the quote from Dr. Tyson. So many are yelling about jobs but fail to understand that strong science programs, with some vision and resolve, would create jobs for the next 100 years. America needs to stop running scared before we completely lose our ability to lead. Our media need to get some guts and generate excitement about what's real and stop pandering to the segment of our population who apparently have to live their lives vicariously through the Paper People they so adore. I'd much prefer my tax dollars to be spent on scientific discovery and resulting innovations than I would have them pumped into more invasions. Where's the will, America?

    July 17, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • shellshock

      AMEN!!! Everyone is calling this a waste of money and calling for Obama's head on a platter but they don't realize what things like this, and the discovery of the Higgs-boson particle mean. As I said elsewhere in the comments section for this article, our planet isn't getting larger and our population isn't getting any smaller. At the very least, establishing a human presence off world and being able to do things like mine asteroids and other extraterrestrial bodies gives us not only more resources but jobs–something us Americans could sorely use. Trickle down economics anyone?

      July 17, 2012 at 9:40 am |
      • mike

        If we humans do not suceed in getting off this planet and colonize somewhere else, the human race is doomed to fail.

        Not necessarily today or tomorrow, but in a few million years our sun will explode and the Earth will be consumed.

        We need to get the technology and funding today so that our great, great, great,great,great,great,great,grandchildren can live and prolong the human species.

        If we are not here to promote the human race and survive for the longhaul, why are are we wasting our time today, so we can die tomorrow?

        We also need to send out hundreds of Voyager spacecrafts with messages in the bottle. Maybe send a rocket up with hundreds or thousands of these and push them into space

        July 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
      • T.A. Martin

        The Sun has another five and a half BILLION years of exsistance before it consumes the Earth.... I think our race will be well done before that happens.

        July 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Nonimus

      The US is arguably still riding the coattails of discoveries at Bell Labs back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Think: Transistors, Cell Phones, Lasers, Unix and C programming, etc. As a "Regulated Monopoly" it was a unique collaboration of public and private enterprise.

      July 17, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • MarkCali

      The awe = $2.5 billion to look at a puddle of water. If you want to awe anyone these days, you can do it with your own wallet and stop spending my tax dollars on wasted efforts in Mars.

      It would take an estimated 14 years for humans to travel there safely at current technology. To go visit a rock in space. I'll stick to the Grand Canyon, thanks.

      July 17, 2012 at 10:22 am |
      • Nonimus

        14 years? To develop the technology and send a ship? Because 14 year transit time seems awfully long.

        July 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
      • David

        14 years? Try 6 months and that's relying on natural acceleration. An active engine for the whole trip (nukes) could get us there in 1/2 that.

        July 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
      • DZ

        You look like a troll however I'll reply on this.

        Do you think Columbus was wrong asking money for his journey?

        July 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
      • Jkhur

        Don't worry about it.Your tax dollars went to pay a mid level bureaucrat's salary at the Department of Agriculture. My tax dollars went to this project and they are well spent.

        July 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  5. LuisWu

    I doubt it will survive. They should have stuck with what they know. The Mars Rovers method worked fine. Why try something new that's more complicated?

    July 17, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Aged P

      Because that's how radical discovery happens. Being satisfied with only what we know is a sure road to extinction.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • nightsun2k7

      This is about 2-3 times the size of the other rovers. Bouncing it on airbags wouldn't work.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  6. Yes1fan

    Simple is usually better – let's hope that's not necessarily true in this case.....

    July 17, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  7. Jay

    Cool video. I wonder when the first Mars condo will go on sale. We're already going to be parking our SUVS there.

    July 17, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  8. nilla

    Are we really sure the subterrainian Martians are cool with us landing on our planet?

    July 17, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • shellshock

      One way or another, I'm sure we'll find out soon enough LOL.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  9. Been there, done that

    "The rover, packed into its travel case..." Of course the case was pre-screened and approved by TSA.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Scott

      The TSA can't even come close to the quality checks that NASA does before loading something like this into the rocket.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  10. JimfromBham

    The scientist at the beginning of the NASA video states, "It is the result of reasoned engineering thought". Looks a bit like Rube Goldberg to me, however.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      We'll discount what you think because you're uninformed.

      July 17, 2012 at 6:18 am |
      • JimfromBham

        Gotta love it when a stranger makes assumptions. BS in engineering – how about you?

        July 17, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Gumby

      Ha ha. The Internet: The magical land where one can be an engineer just by claiming to be one.

      July 22, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  11. Huh

    Im sure the guy in the artical is a rocket scientist and therefore likely to be quite smart, but just to help him out something cannot be very unique. Unique means one of a kind. I sure hope they checked their math and made sure everyone was using the units, I'd hate to see another complicated and expensive machine crash into Mars because someone forgot to use meters and not feet... 

    July 17, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      I agree completely. NASA's made that mistake before. That vehicle crashed into the surface of Mars.

      July 17, 2012 at 6:21 am |
      • Love4USA

        Thank you Captain Redundancy.

        July 17, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • PJ

      A guy who can't spell "article" criticizing a rocket scientists choice of words? God bless America for the idiots shall rule the earth.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:47 am |
      • Aged P

        I was thinking English major (except for the spelling problem, of course).

        July 17, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Nonimus

      II think the unique thing was Mars, in that its atmosphere is thin but not insignificant.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  12. Abbeystone

    The Large Hadron Collider would have been a better investment.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • Scott

      A better investment than potentially proving the existence of life elsewhere in the solar system?

      I cannot imagine anything that could POSSIBLY be a better investment.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Chris

      What??????

      July 17, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • shellshock

      Both are worthy investments. The fact is, Earth is getting no larger and the population is getting no smaller. We're already doing unspeakable things to one another for resources and land and have been for thousands of years. There's a lot out there, it'd be stupid to not try and explore our options.

      July 17, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Nonimus

      Didn't realize it was an either/or. Aren't both in operation, i.e. CERN and Curiosity?

      July 17, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Hugo

      Maybe yes, maybe no. Which project is more likely to encourage the intelligent 10 year old child to pursue a career in science or engineering instead of law?

      July 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
      • Aged P

        Or, god forbid, accounting.

        July 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  13. helenecha

    I do think so that landing Curiosity on Mars this way is awesome. But the sad truth is that the atmospheric environment on Mars won't represent its advantages that may help the landing become easy and economical.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  14. kevin

    That's a fairly complicated landing. Sometime during the landing I foresee at least one NASA employee saying, "DOH!"

    July 17, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  15. 4#3B

    Lot of failure points there. Sure hope it works out.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  16. brian

    it is all paid for by medicare since the osama administration decided to fake a health care bill and drop millions from hospitals. hospitals

    July 17, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • n2video

      Your comment makes no sense at all.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |
      • tsighborg

        Only the drunk guy above talking about fulish scientists uttered something with less sense.

        July 17, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • JEM

      snooze

      July 17, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  17. pod

    Awesome! can't wait!

    July 17, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Evangelicide

      Won't think it's so awesome when Mars declares war on us.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:20 am |
  18. 99%

    $2.5 Billion to dig in the dirt...again? What a complete and ignorant waste of american taxpayer money. I guess when they can't spend enough on wars, there's always the ability to spend our money doing the same thing again and again with the expectation of different results. Who cares if there is microbial life on Mars...so what! What's the definition of insanity...!?

    July 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • n2video

      There are many science experiments aboard Curiosity. It won't be JUST taking pictures or digging dirt for the sake of digging dirt. The landing site is inside a large crater, once thought to have been filled with a water lake. Since water is essential for life, the hunt for water continues on Mars in order to determne of life was ever possible on Mars. It is a central question of our humanity....are we alone and unique, or is there life elsewhere. Anyone who doesn't have this question in their mind, either subconsciously or in the forefront of their thoughts, is being shortsighted and not living up to their potential as a sentient, intelligent human being.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Recess is over, children

      It's obviously over your head. None too soon, all of that nasty dirt will be too.

      July 17, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Elwood011

      There is a saying that says if you're not growing, you're dying. Mankind has become the dominant life form on this planet through advancing our intelligence and our constant quest for more knowledge. So if we are no longer interested in growing our knowledge, then what are we doing?

      July 17, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Dummies

      What a bunch of stupid replies....
      Eminent evolutionists put the best chance of abiogenesis at 1 in 10 to the 40,000 –
      For comparison, there 10 to the 80th electrons in the universe....

      Do the math if you can – there's not a CHANCE of life elsewhere unless G0d put it there.

      Mathematicians are the only branch of natural science that are NOT invited to the annual Darwin symposium, ever since they proved that life from non-life is impossible!

      July 17, 2012 at 9:03 am |
      • Stop drinking the kool-aid

        You cannot calculate abiogenesis that way, and the people who told you they could were telling you what you wanted to hear.

        http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

        July 17, 2012 at 9:26 am |
      • allynom

        Can't even maintain consistency within your own post! First you say that it's "eminent evolutionists" who came up with your nonsense number, then you say it's "mathematicians." Can you provide a reference for any of these quotes?

        July 17, 2012 at 9:28 am |
      • Quadg

        maths is just the language of abstraction used by science.
        mathematicians and physicists (and bankers) tend to forget this and get a little lost in the abstract (their description of something, is just a description. It is not the thing itself)
        so what mathematicians and physicists say should be taken with a pinch of salt, until it can be tested. Otherwise it’s just a description of something logical that could happen....

        July 17, 2012 at 9:48 am |
      • Nonimus

        "Eminent evolutionists put the best chance of abiogenesis at 1 in 10 to the 40,000 –"

        This is made up, either by you or by the person you're copying from. Let's see the source or the math, please.

        July 17, 2012 at 9:59 am |
      • Morons

        Eminent Evolutionists? It's not bad enough that your math is completely wrong (never mind irrelevant), but to flat out lie about where this information is coming from?

        July 17, 2012 at 10:57 am |
      • Hugo

        Cite names. Who are these so-called scientists? They have names. Produce the names.

        July 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Ganzma

    Amazing that we have the capability to do this, but our government can't decide how to cut a hang nail. Go NASA and show us what we know we are capable of doing when we put our mind to it, work towards a common cause and work together to better mankind. Thank you!

    July 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  20. n2video

    Without reading the entire list of comments here, and answering to those who call this a "waste of money", I am going to quote astronomer Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson who said it best, in my opinion: "I’m not going to even list the spinoffs. I could but I’m not. I’m going to list something else. The decade of the ‘60’s (at the hieght of the "space race") transformed the culture of the United States of America to be one of innovation and discovery. And when you have that as part of your culture, you innovate. And when you innovate, you are responsible for birthing entire new economies that drive your nation’s wealth. During that decade there were no jobs going overseas because they didn’t know how to do what it was that we were innovating. When you stop innovating, and anybody catches up, then of course the jobs will go overseas. What I would like is a suite of launch vehicles where we could just choose what destination we want for whatever reason that drives it. It could be scientific, it could be touristic, it could be geo-political. And that way the solar system becomes our backyard. To advance the frontier of space, you have to innovate, when tomorrow, you do something that you did not do today. That’s the culture that needs resurrection…the Golden Era of space exploration."

    July 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Jeff

      Well said!

      July 17, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • JWoody907

      Here Here!

      July 17, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • mysonsfuture

      grand quote! inspiring

      July 17, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  21. Jt_flyer

    Can't wait! Most exciting mission in years. God's speed Curiosity.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  22. RichBStine

    The decent/landing video was pretty amazing. I hope it goes well.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  23. Bellevue

    Watch the video. It is undisputed, the United States has the best aeronautics/space scientists, research and capabilities in the world. Russia doesn't come close when it comes to technology.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • bzcoolness

      I wholeheartedly agree. I just find it hilarious that we have to hitch a ride with them to fly a few guys into space.

      July 17, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  24. Steve

    I hope it isnt made by Ford,,,,,if so its a total flop. Hopefully its made by G.M.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • seamusmeboy

      Like along the lines of the Chevy Volt?

      July 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • BK

      I hope it's not made by Toyota; if it is it may never stop.

      July 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  25. the logical centrist

    At 2.5 billion couldn't congress allow some additional money for a safer landing?

    July 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • JWoody907

      Actually this is the safest landing they could come up with. The old method of landing via parachute and airbags won't work, because this rover is far larger than the previous two generations, and the airbags either would be too heavy to fit on the launch vehicle, or be too weak to protect the rover as it tumbled.

      It means that either the entire operation would require a new class of rocket booster, or we'd have to send a far smaller and thus less mission capable lander.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:15 am |
      • Pixar has the solution!

        We just need that landing rocket from Wall-E....

        July 17, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  26. Joe

    It'd be awesome if they had a camera during the landing we could watch online.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • kkrogman

      They do and you will. Patience :)

      July 17, 2012 at 12:35 am |
      • n2video

        I don't believe there will be a camera operating during the landing sequence. After the heat shield ejects, there will be radar to find the landing site, but the cameras are aboard the rover itself and probably won't become operational unitl Curiosity is safely on the surface.

        July 17, 2012 at 1:29 am |
      • Zaechariah

        "-5 miles up (8 kilometers) – the heat shield is jettisoned. An onboard camera (Mars Descent Imager) begins recording video of the ground."
        Read carefully next time. There is a camera.

        July 17, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  27. Everett Wallace

    cool

    July 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  28. KBW

    Good luck guys. Congratulations in advance, but I have faith in you. I miss working with y'all

    July 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  29. Timetraveler

    I wonder why they didn't use the air cushions as the landing mechanism. They proved to be very successful for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Yes, this one is a bigger rover, but they could have scaled it up. This landing mechanism seems more risky and prone to malfunction. Too many additional steps, moving parts and things to go wrong. Will be watching with bated breath.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Nodack

      That's too bad they didn't call you for your expert advice and instead used a bunch of rocket scientists instead. What do they know anyway?

      July 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
      • Timetraveler

        I don't work for NASA, but I do happen to have a PhD in physics, and an MS in electrical engineering. Not exactly your average Joe Blo off the street.

        July 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
      • ThatGuy

        Fine, but if you had read the article they said that it wasn't posible due to the rover's increased weight... I would think a PhD could read

        July 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
      • BK

        Yeah yeah sure; everyone on the Internets claims to have a degree in something.

        July 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • David M

      I'm not a rocket scientist, but I can not only read, but also comprehend, fairly well. This is from the article:

      "The rover’s size – it's 9 feet, 10 inches long and 9 feet, 1 inch wide – makes it too heavy to land with airbags like earlier rovers".

      Let me know if you have other questions....

      July 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
      • Timetraveler

        The difference between you me is that your inquiry stops with that simpleton explanation, and mine begins there. That's the kind of explanation one gives a 6-year old, and the scientifically illiterate.

        July 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
      • ThatGuy

        If you are looking for an explanation befitting a scientist, why are you at CNN? Seriously, there are a million other places that will describe the technicalities better. Coming here for the nitty gritty details is like going to McDonalds and asking if the cows they used had brown or black spots.

        July 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
      • ThatGuy

        Troll!

        Seriously, I hope you are some day able to leave your Mom's basement and bask in the light of the above world

        July 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Nodack

      You have one up on me, but I'll still go with the team of NASA experts on this one.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • TonyB

      The article said they don't use cushions because the rover is too heavy.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Barneyis666

      It seems to me the Mythbusters episode to see how much bubble-wrap it would take to safely drop a human from several feet is a good corollary to a drop by air cushions. The take away is that the use of bubble-wrap doesn't scale well with increasing weight of the payload and height of the drop. The weight of the bubble wrap eventually becomes so unwieldy and puts so much force on the payload itself that it's not feasible to use as protection. Obviously spacecraft and a human bubble wrap drop on Mythbusters are different animals, but I wonder if the reasons not to use are not so dissimilar. Basically, the weight of air cushions is too costly to send into space, and the force it exerts on the payload is too great considering its weight/costs as well. TL;DR: Mythbusters bubble wrap episode a good corollary for why using air cushions for spacecraft beyond a certain weight doesn't make sense.

      July 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Jt_flyer

      The article states that's it's too heavy to land with airbags.

      July 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • bzcoolness

      Well, aside from the whole "It's too big for the airbags" thing, it allows the rover to hit the ground running, so to speak; rather than wait for some bags to deflate and panels to pop out, this drops it onto the surface, allowing the rover to start working almost immediately.

      July 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • JWoody907

      Actually this is the safest landing they could come up with. The old method of landing via parachute and airbags won't work, because this rover is far larger than the previous two generations, and the airbags either would be too heavy to fit on the launch vehicle, or be too weak to protect the rover as it tumbled. They looked at landing via airbag originally and almost immediately ruled it out, which is why they came up with Sky Crane.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  30. Mikey

    As a young boy I looked up and thought, that I would surely like to be the guy who went to the Moon. I would like to see the canals on Mars. In my life I've marveled at a radio that could play Fibber McGee and Molly and the Friday Night Fights. Later an Admiral Television that came on for a couple of hours a day. I remember flying in a DC3 from San Fransisco to San Diego ad little more than 100mph. Now we have thousands of radio and TV stations broadcasting 24×7 from satellites and planes that travel thousands of miles per hour. The transmissions are 99.99999% reliable. So are the planes. We can sequence our DNA and communicate with nearly 6 billion soles with a hand-held device. Now ask yourself, where are our limited government resources best spent? Risky R&D for $17 Billion (NASA Budget) that provides the knowledge to develop those things or $700 Billion to the banks for mismanaging their business and our money. NASA delivers. Of the 10,000 or so line items in the US Budget few deliver comparable returns.

    Why do these guys travel in rockets, fly experimental aircraft, stick their necks out when the only gain is knowing they did something good? Did we need such a complex maneuver? Yup. Can we do it. Yup. Will it fail? Maybe but it will never work unless we try. Just ask John Glenn or Buzz Aldrin or any of the thousand of dedicated men and women who work at NASA, JPL and the other US funded research facilities. Because they are good scientists, engineers and administrators.

    Before you criticize the people and these programs, ask yourself – What have I done for mankind today?

    No I don't work at any of those places, but I wish I did.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • n2video

      Very well said, Mikey. Those who criticize the space program as a waste of money do not realize they benefit from it every day of their lives.

      July 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • allynom

      "communicate with nearly 6 billion soles" Please tell us what all those fish have to say! Or is it shoes? :-)

      July 17, 2012 at 9:34 am |
      • Mikey

        Sometimes it seems like its fish.

        July 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  31. David M

    For those of you complaining about "wasting" $2.5B, look at it this way. The govt is going to spend the money on something. It may as well be on scientific endeavors. A lot of stuff we use in every day life, but never give it a thought, came out of the space program. Further, any money spent on NASA is money that cannot be used for foreign aid to countries that hate us in the first place, but gladly take our money.

    Besides, if you really want to complain about something, what about the amount of waste and fraud associated with contracting in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? Upwards of $61B. Read it for yourself at wartimecontractingdotgov. It's a report submitted to congress in September 2011. Very scathing. Read that and you will think this $2.5B is well spent.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  32. Joe

    With all these expensive rovers ,Who ever goes to Mars first is gonna be a real rich man.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  33. ArthurP

    Speaking of wasting money:

    You over there by the pile of long straight sticks. Stop banging those rocks together and get back out on the savanna digging for grubs with your bare hands like everyone else so we can make sure every one is really well fed. Yes I know it is hard finger breaking work but we just have to get used to it . Either that or grow big sharp claws. By the way should that lion come back around just jump up making a lot of noise. I know it is not a good solution but it is all we can do. After all it is not as if we have a long horn that we can use to defend ourselves now is it. Damn it is chilly at night here I wish there was something we could do about that too.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  34. Bob

    Gee, $2,5 billion here, $2.5 billion there. Pretty soon, you're talking real money.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Major Tom

      At the height of the Iraq war, $2.5 billion was the cost of 3 days worth of war. You didn't have a problem with that, or the 9 years worth of it.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
      • Nodack

        Ouch!
        :)

        July 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  35. svann

    I think that video should have the mission impossible theme backing it.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  36. Rico53

    I wonder why they chose this location for a landing ,i thought the search was for water and unless we were taught wrong didn`t Mars at one time have polar ice caps? If i were looking for water that`s where i would start.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Massman

      Mars HAS polar ice caps and plenty of (frozen) water. The search here is for past or present life. Very exciting!

      July 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  37. Jessy The Gnostic

    Wow, people here can be such jerks. This is science people. This is not a topic in which you bring petty arguments about what is a waste of money or how god should be placed ahead of science or whatever. This article and this mission is an inspiration to me. Nothing else matters. At the very least our tax dollars are being used wisely in this case as exploring Mars has a purpose. The US government usually spends way more on building stadiums and monuments that no one cares about as well as creating useless regulations and paying big benefits to arrogant liberals and republicans while our infrastructure is collapsing.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Suddenly Kittens

      (Applause)

      July 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Tim

      Not to mention that less than half of 1 percent of the federal budget goes towards NASA.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  38. Nick

    It may end up being '9 to 11 Minutes of Terror' for the scientists and engineers at NASA:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18861463

    The Mars Odyssey mission was supposed to be the relay for Curiosity, monitoring the decent and landing. However, technical problems are preventing NASA from properly adjusting it into the right orbit. Word of MSL's status may be delayed for a few extra minutes or possibly longer. (Two more Mars orbiters are available and will be watching the event, but they were not designed to be 'real-time' relay satellites.)

    July 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  39. 4ePlay

    It'll land safely cuz they'll use anti-gravity. The animation is just an elaborate (AND funny) prank designed to cover up the government's knowledge of alien technology.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Jessy The Gnostic

      Dude, everyone already knows about the Stargate program operating within Cheyenne Mountain. Tell us something we don't already know.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
      • Suddenly Kittens

        sorry thats false. otherwise your comment would be gone.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  40. TexDoc

    The earth and sun have a finite life. Without exploration, and eventual colonization of the reaches of space, mankind dies.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Sandy Duncan's Glass Eye

      You speak as if life in the flesh is the penultimate and only existence. There is a world beyond the flesh where the material is immaterial. And none of these things that you crave and cling to actually matter outside this illusion.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
      • Jessy The Gnostic

        I know what you are saying, but this is science we are talking about here. Not religion or spirituality. Save that talk for another topic as that has nothing to do with this. I understand everything about spirituality and the ineffable god, but I also understand when to NOT bring it up.

        July 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
      • Tony

        Flesh/physical life WOULD be the "penultimate" existence according to your argument since "penultimate" means "next to last," not "ultimate" as you think it does.

        July 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
      • Nodack

        All religions are man made cults. Science is real. Dinosaurs were here millions of years before God supposedly created man and the Earth. Sorry.

        July 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  41. TheXDude

    Just think of what kind of kick ass spam filters these guys could write...

    July 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Jessy The Gnostic

      Google could learn from them for their Gmail service.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  42. brother dave

    I see you "nasa" LOL DO not belive this witchcraft bs any longer. THERE IS NO lander going to "land" on mars. Stop the Lies . I "see" you :) may Jesus bless you.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Himself

      Wow dave, it must be wonderful to know everything. Mind you, most conspiracy theorists do think they know everything, and I have found over the years that they are all members of the same club. That would be the 'Don't Confuse Me With Facts, My Mind Is Already Made Up' club. Oh, by the way, historically there is no evidence that anyone named 'Jesus' ever lived. You will only find him in religious material, not in historical. I guess he's just like your NASA idea.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
      • Addison

        I do not believe in God, and I do not believe that anyone on earth is a prophet.. However I do believe in facts.. Sorry himself.. but there is an extraordinary amount of historical evidence that Jesus walked the earth and had followers.. and ddi many things. the question or debate is about was he a great philosopher or a prophet. I obviously do not believe he was a prophet. The question is why do you not even think he existed. Now that is amazing.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
      • Hugo

        I find it rather incredible that you are so sure of yourself but your writing is hardly rigorous. "...historically there is no evidence that anyone named 'Jesus' ever lived." Never mind all those Hispanic people names Jesus...

        In any event, there is significant evidence that both Romans and Jewish leaders tried to eliminate the early Christian movement. Crushing the movement would have been trivial simply by pointing reminding the people who exactly died on the cross the Friday of the Passover celebration. It wouldn't make sense for Jews present to forget a recent Passover. It's not like Romans were trying to keep executions a secret. To the contrary, they were trying to the average person that criminals suffered greatly in order to keep order. (There is strong evidence of how the Romans typically dealt with non-citizen criminals and also how they dealt with citizen criminals.)

        July 17, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Counting by Tens

      Step away from the computer. Turn off Brother Bill's Fantastical Magical Hour of Belief. Pick up a science textbook.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Sandy Duncan's Glass Eye

      The only way to land on Mars is to imagine that there is no landing on Mars. The Oracle will see you now.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Al

      I hope you're not serious...

      July 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Hugo

      Yet you use a computer...

      Can you explain how a computer works? If not, using the same sort of reasoning, how can your computer possibly exist?

      July 17, 2012 at 7:14 am |
  43. peter k

    Is this private money? if not,what a waste of money with all the problems we have- let them put the billons into salt water to fresh water to water the plants to keep us alive

    July 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • John

      What is the likes of you doing reading anything about the advancement of human knowledge? Go spend your time volunteering at the local homeless shelter if that makes you feel better.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • TexDOc

      It's not a waste of money. It's no different than Obama's stimulus plan and shovel ready jobs, but instead you hire programers, scientists, and manufacturers. The cash doesn't get 'burned up'. It was used to make something. Further, the inspiration is worth more. Department of Education budget, 75 billion, we get regulations and a lot of beuracrats. NASA budget, 10 billion, we get scientists, inspiration to millions, and knowledge.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Massman

      With all the problems we are having on Earth doesn't it make sense to have a plan "B"? a.k.a. martian colony?

      July 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Hugo

      Peter, if nothing else, we need scientists. Missions like this is a key way to inspire capable youngsters to become scientists. Without scientists, how do you propose we learn about desalinization? How do you propose we even have computers?

      July 17, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  44. Tim Lucas

    Read the article with such excitement and pride. Then I read the comments and lost my faith in humanity again. All of you suck! This is science. This is amazing! We're leaning! If you would rather watch the Cardashians, go ahead!

    July 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Keith

      Great comment and I agree. It's sad how small minded the U.S. populace has become. We no longer have a vision of a future filled with wonder and excitement. It's more about surviving another day and riduculing our neighbors. It's starting to feel the same way I imagined Soviet Russia when I was younger – cynical and hateful.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
      • Counting by Tens

        Keith, it's so true and so sad. A lot of these comments remind me of the kids in elementary school who would try to tear down the bright gals and guys. Instead of working harder to catch up with the better students their main goal seems to be to make sure nobody can excel. No wonder we're turning into a second-world country.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Sandy Duncan's Glass Eye

      I'm fascinated by the precision that has gone into this landing system and I really want it to work. But by the same token, I want to know if it doesn't work, who is going to be fired for the miscalculation to the tune of $2.5 billion taxpayer dollars. Let the private companies invest in risk-laden R&D...save the tax dollars for the things that matter most here on earth. I would rather we invest billions on H3 research and practical extraction/processing/transport which can solve our energy problems. Isn't this the logical approach that matters most?

      July 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
      • Addison

        The countries that explored the earth became rich and led mankind into more incredible things that we all benefit from today. One well chosen asteroid has more wealth in it than all the wealth we have had so far on earth. The Chinese know this, India knows this, Russia knows this, and many others. the countries that exploit space will become wealthy and powerful and those that don't will become nothing. Unfortunately our country now is producing people like you Sandy.. half support the other half, and a fraction of those that work are actually above average intelligent. Ummm you are not in that group.

        July 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
      • Counting by Tens

        Startup costs for major technologies are often too high for private industry to undertake. Look at airplane development a century ago. Much of the early work was supported by the government until it was mature enough for private industry to take over. The Wright Brothers got a lot of their funding from the Army, and there was plenty of non-military involvement by the government well into the 1930s. Yes NASA has arguably been less than outstanding in the last couple of decades but their efforts are what paved the way for the private firms now planning commercial space ventures.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
      • Jessy The Gnostic

        I'm pretty sure that's motivation enough to get it right the first time. So far, the last few rovers we sent were successful. But they were small. This is probably the first time NASA has sent an SUV-sized rover to Mars. Also, don't underestimate the size of NASA's pride. They know that if this goes wrong in any way, it will be the equivalent of getting a straight kick to the balls with a steel-toed boot.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  45. Socal Reaggae

    July 16, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  46. MontanaSon

    Won't work, but what the heck. They're just printing the money now anyway.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Hubcap

      Apparently not enough to keep 1000's of JPL workers employed.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tim Lucas

      MontanaSon, you're a pessimistic jerk!

      July 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • TexDoc

      To many of you, it's not a waste of money. It's no different than Obama's stimulus plan and shovel ready jobs, but instead you hire programers, scientists, and manufacturers. The cash doesn't get 'burned up'. It was used to make something. Further, the inspiration is worth more. Department of Education budget, 75 billion, we get regulations and a lot of beuracrats. NASA budget, 10 billion, we get scientists, inspiration to millions, and knowledge. Which is a better investment?

      July 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Suddenly Kittens

      lol

      July 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  47. RichardW

    I wonder if NASA would have gotten the funding needed for this, if the American public knew how risky (to say the least) this is. I'm loving it and am looking forward to that August Sunday night.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • JWoody907

      Just remember, this is the same agency that put the first American into space (John Glenn), beat the Russians to the Moon with the Apollo missions, built and launched numerous satellites into orbit allowing global communications at a blindingly fast speed, built and launched a re-usable orbital vehicle (Shuttle) that was then used as the primary tool to build a habitable space station (ISS) which can in turn, be used to build another station (Russian OPSEK).

      They've sent probes beyond the edge of the Solar System into Deep Space that run on less power than a blow dryer (Voyager), but still give us new data, a telescope that can peer into the past (Hubble), and an upcoming one that can peer almost to the start of the universe (JWST). They've landed numerous missions on other planets, including Mars.

      I think we can trust these guys to probably know how to land this thing.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  48. FactChecker

    I am happy for those who are excited about the mission but I'm more excited about the tricky landing. Being able to automate such a thing seems important. I'm really not personally that interested in whether Mars was moldy in the past.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  49. GoRemote

    So, we're attaching Mars again........Cool, I hate them.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  50. Kips

    So the landing will be approx. 10:31PM P.D.T. on Sunday Aug 5th for Pacific coast fans (which is where JPL mission control is located). I believe NASA always reports event times in the mission control time zone. CNN has the editorial custom of only reporting in Eastern Time. Not really and issue except when events span midnight as this event does. But whatever happens out there so far from home, it will rightly be recorded as having made history on Earth on Aug. 5th, 2012.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  51. whoop

    i'm so excited. i really hope this works. the landing sounds very complicated which lead to many more potentialities for things to go awry.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  52. Joeblow

    Just watched the video of how the landing is supposed to go down. It's ridiculous there is no way it's going to work. Just throwing money away.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • LqM

      This is why you don't do what these engineers do. Math and science will get this rover landed safely.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • j0eschm0e

      after it lands safely Im going to laugh at your sorry pessimistic whining

      July 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Jessy The Gnostic

      Do you have a better, more cost-effective plan? No? Then I guess I should be thankful you're here complaining and not over there working at NASA.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Joe Smith

      And your credentials are?

      July 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  53. RF Burns

    "...and can travel about 660 feet (200 meters) per day." Is this a Chevy Volt?

    July 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • IW

      Yeah,
      snails in the backyard go faster. This is the speed we need to discover our tiny universe

      July 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Counting by Tens

      It's a robot moving under its own power over unmapped terrain, with ~10 minutes of delay for communication between it and Earth. If it were scooting around like a dune buggy it could be in a crater or hung up on a boulder before anyone back home even knew it was in danger. Imagine that you're making your way across a rock field in New Mexico. Are ya gonna try to sprint, or are ya gonna be careful and take your time?

      July 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  54. EatThemUpYum

    Now THIS is the kind of PR that NASA needs.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  55. ddurham46

    My bad-it's August 6 eastern time.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  56. E

    Fantastic! Good luck guys!

    July 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  57. ddurham46

    The landing date is August 5, not August 6.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  58. xfiler93

    Sure hope it survives the landing.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  59. strvger

    i'm confused. the writer said the heat shield is jettisoned at 5 miles about the surface. the next line, at 1 mile above the surface the heat shield drops off. so which is it? did i miss something?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Polymath

      You didn't miss anything. This is the problem when people with no journalism degree and who don't understand science or try to write about it. They say things they don't understand, and they don't proofread to see if it even makes sense.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  60. anony

    If the signals take 5-10 minutes to reach earth for the next command, how does the Rover know to avoid an obstacle thats bigger than it can handle? by the time we tell it to move, wont it be too late?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • EatThemUpYum

      This thing moves 200 meters per day. It's not going fast. And it probably has a certain level of intelligence that allows it to avoid obvious dangers like cliffs, walls, etc.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • oblix

      The way it worked with previous rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) was that they would send pictures of their surrounding and programmers on earth would send back code for the rovers to navigate. Once the code is run this process repeats. But Curiosity also has an ability to navigate small obstacles in its own.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  61. Montello

    Hmmm, I hope the engineers who crashed the previous Martian lander because they calculated the trajectory on the basis of imperial rather than metric units were assigned to something else for this project...

    July 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • CNN Reader

      Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth shattering kaboom!

      July 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Polymath

      That one didn't crash; it just sailed right past Mars, off into deep space.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  62. Newguy

    My biggest fear is that one of the lowering cords wont seperate. Draging the craft through the surface. Hope it all goes well. If not hopefully the video will be entertaining from the hover vehicle........

    July 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  63. Earnest T Bass

    what happens when Mars starts dumping some space trash in your back yard NASA?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  64. Cindy Maddy

    Wouldn't it be something to live long enough to visit a museum on Mars and see all the devices we'd sent there in our quest to teraform and colonize? Almost tempting enough to invest in Cryogenics.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • adasd

      Why dont you cut off your head now and stick it in an icebucket

      July 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
      • Cindy Maddy

        Waamp Waamp

        July 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
      • Matt

        Cindy, that is pretty funny. Good to see you didn't stoop to a lower level.

        July 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • NyQ

      Terraforming Mars will be difficult without a viable magnetosphere.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • carpenterman123

      Terraforming is a myth. Just ask anyone who doesn't believe man has altered our climate.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  65. vickeyd

    "If at first you don't succeed, Fry, fry a hen". If this rover crashes and burns, mankind will still learn from it, and will "try again"

    July 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  66. PM

    SUV sized? 9 feet? 2000 pounds? Hardly. Curiosity is commonly referred as the size of a mini cooper. Maybe in France that's an SUV.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • CyberSpy

      Yes, "SUV sized". And yes, it is. There are 3 cataegories of SUV, one of them being "Compact SUV" and there are a plethora of them, none of them French. Also, the Mini is made by BMW which is BAVARIAN Motor Works, making it, well, Bavarian, not French. When acting like a know it all, make sure you actually know it.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
      • PM67

        Your comment is probably a (true-)SUV sized load of manure. When I (and the rest of the space community) refer to Curiosity as Mini Cooper sized, it is to emphasize that it's the size of a tiny little car, not an SUV. If you're offended by the French comment, then that's fine, that's an opinion, but to defend Curiosity as SUV sized just shows an utter lack of appreciation of scale.

        July 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  67. Tom

    Ever since I first saw the plans, I've been trying to devise a way to land that has even more things that could go wrong, and I can't do it :-).

    July 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  68. Adrienne

    This is amazing. It still is somewhat mind blowing that we have placed technology on other planets that is able to move around and collect data for us. Seriously – that is so exceedingly cool.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  69. Stan

    There is not a chance in Hell this landing will be successful.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Manny

      Stan, it does appear like an impossible task, if they do it I think we should consider use all the managers involved in this project to run our economy!!!

      July 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • pbernasc

      depressive maniac ... betting on a loser is always what losers do .. this one will win .. and mankind will progress , you instead .. well, there ins't to progress with start

      July 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • tom

      Why? Presumably they have tested a lot of this here on Earth. With good sensors and solid programming, it should work.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Adam

      I think it's going to work flawlessly!! What I find odd is all that ballast, over 150 kg's of dead weight that will be just jettisoned and forgotten. Considering the astronomical launch costs per/kg. It seems like a wasted opportunity. Why not some ground penetrators?, a glider, some balloons? there had to be a better use for 150+ kilos of cargo then a solid hunk of tungsten.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
      • Ken

        Anything useful of the same weight would be much less dense than a block of tungsten and hence have a much larger volume.

        July 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
      • jkflipflop

        As much as you people would like to think you can outsmart a team of NASA rocket scientists, it's just not going to happen. Hang it up.

        July 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Counting by Tens

      Without trying to be TOO snarky ... your degrees in engineering and physics are from what universities?

      July 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Massman

      Very sad Stan. I hope you will have to eat those words on August 6th when American ingenutiy triumphs once again!

      July 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  70. Sandy

    A more appropriate name for this rover would be "Wing and A Prayer". I will be sitting on pins and needles waiting for touch down.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  71. Lawrence

    One thing they need to remember, use the correct units of measurements or one unit. Don't use metric when it calls for English units.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Paul

      Exactly! The actually made that mistake on a previous Mars mission!

      July 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • LT Fang

      Do not use English units, ever.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  72. what!!!

    I bet a majority of Americans would rather have spent the 2.5 billion to build a dozen or so prisons in order to house all the child molesters right here in the U.S.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Michael

      I bet the majority of the US would like to spend $2,500 for bullets and shoot all the molesters to have it over with.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  73. lolwut

    Quaiiiiiid! Start the reactor!

    July 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  74. Chuck Anziulewicz

    I hope CNN will provide live coverage of the landing from NASA or JPL.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Victoria Levy

      You will be able to watch it live through NASA JPL at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

      July 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Me

      I hope CNN will provide a live coverage of landing straign from Mars. lol Make CNN work.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  75. jay

    It's primary mission is to drop off a red light camera. Future rovers will have to remain under the given speed limit. If not, a ticket will be issued to Nasa from the US Government. This is part of the formula to fund Obama care.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Raul

      WELL DONE!! WELL DONE!!! you managed to drag Obama into this with only 12 posters getting in comments ahead of you. I think if you try harder you can get it in sooner!! regardless well done.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      • Jojo

        LOL!! not only was Obama even mentioned after 12 posts, but this was somehow linked to taxation for Obamacare...that took some maneuvering that puts Curiosity's concocted landing in martian dust!

        July 16, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Joe

      Why some people always think politics is "funny" in a science article is beyond me. It isn't.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  76. Petercha

    I guess I don't understand why the "crane lowering" device is needed. Why not just fire the 8 retro-rockets until it gently lands?

    July 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • SI Units

      Presumably less weight that way.

      "backpack" + rover
      likely weighs less and will result in fewer deployment obstacles than
      rigid lander + rover

      so long as the sky crane harness disengages properly and flies away

      July 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Chuck Anziulewicz

      The explanation of the landing system is HERE:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Science_Laboratory#Landing_system

      July 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Vish

      Because of Mar's surface .. too dusty and if they do that then the rover will be covered with dust, possibly damaging equipment

      July 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Tom

      Did you miss the part about the rocket motors kicking up a potentially damaging dust cloud?

      July 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • pmmarion

      I you would have watched the video you would have found out...lol

      July 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  77. EdR

    I've seen the animation of how this thing is supposed to land. Its like they took a bunch of 9 year old kids and put them in a room to brainstorm how to land a spacecraft on mars, and then they hired a bunch of engineers to try and figure out how they could possibly incorporate every single idea that the 9 year olds came up with into one landing attempt. What happen to keeping things simple?

    July 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Dan

      2,000 lbs from 13,200 mph to 0 in seven minutes. You find a simpler way Einstein. Until then stop being critical of people who have double your IQ.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • Newguy

        Its acutaly somewhere around 860lbs in Martian weight.....

        July 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • EdR

        Seems to me we landed a spacecraft on the moon, with living humans in it, with a lot more simplistic approach than this thing has. Oh ya. After the humans landed, they blasted off of the moon and returned to earth. But maybe you were still just some giz and a egg then so you wouldn't remember.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
      • Counting by Tens

        Geez Ed. The moon landers were under real-time control by their crews. They could react in a split second, as in fact _did_ happen with Apollo 11. The Mars lander is operating remotely and there's a multi-minute lag time for any signal to make a round trip between it and Earth. You DO know about the speed of radio signals and understand the distances involved, right?

        July 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
      • EdR

        Counting.. you mean to tell me we can have a remotely operated vehicle that can do circus tricks in order to hopefully land successfully, but we can't come up with something can make real time calculations about a landing site? And you do know about laser based communications. don't you?

        July 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
      • Jon J

        The lander will be making real time adjustments and its method of slowing down (retroactive rockets) is not much different than the Apollo lunar landings. The rockets are just attached by cable instead of directly to the lander. It wasn't practical to attach the rockets directly to a rover.

        Laser communication does exist but is not any faster than radio communication (which is what actually is used). Both are limited by the speed of light. It still takes several minutes for light to travel from Earth to Mars.

        July 17, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Tom

      Congratulations, Ed. Hands down winner. "Bozo of the Month" award is all yours.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
      • EdR

        Very impressive Tom. I take it your not one of the rocket scientists.

        July 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Nick

      Find a pencil and paper... a comfortable seat and desk... an english translation of Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica... and see what you can come up with.

      Personally, I would not know where to start.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Joe Smith

      I don't get your comment about Laser communications ... lasers are LIGHT emitters, and it will take 10 to 20 minutes for for a light signal to reach Mars, the same as any radio transmission, which also travels at the speed of light. (The 10 to 20 minute range is because the distance from the Earth to Mars varies depending on where each planet is in its orbit)

      July 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  78. deejcnn

    I am imagining a Martian looking towards the sky where this activity of 'deceelerating and lowering" of the strange robver is ongoing... that Martian will probably faint and turn into a George Lucas instnatly upon waking up! :-)

    July 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • PantyRaid

      no he will become Ron L Hubbard

      July 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  79. Dingleberrydewdrop

    I think abyone who reads anyting on the internet should be banised to mars without a spacesuit! Go outside and take a walk you fat lazy pigs.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • R. Harris

      Says the man on the Internet making lame comments, maybe take your own advice?

      July 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Lawrence

      Looks who is talking. See ya on the sunny side of mars.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Daniel

      This is crazy and cool!!

      July 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  80. Ross

    How was this photo taken or is this an artists rendition?

    July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Bob B

      Ya that's the rover on Mars.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • SI Units

      Since it is not supposed to land until August 6, what do you think?

      July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
      • LT Fang

        I don't know. Maybe this picture is taken by a camera that uses faster-than-light particles.

        July 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Cindy Maddy

      Maybe the government is secretly using time-travel; set up the camara, took video and sent it back to us. Ooops. Guess someone forgot about keeping that secret. Oh.. and I guess since we have pictures now, we already know it'll work at least that much. NOT.

      Seriously though... THINK ABOUT IT. And learn the following by heart: "It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove alll doubt."

      July 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • oodoodanoo

      It was e-mailed to NASA ten years ago by a Martian with a time machine.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  81. Ross

    After the fake moon landings now I have to investigate every single claim NASA makes.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Petercha

      I hope you are joking, Ross.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
      • Ross

        I wish I were. But dont worry "everyone knows" we landed oon the moon 6 times in two year with 100% sucsess, and that should be enough evidence for 99.99% of the worlds population. Dont let the fact that we can't but a man on the moon today bother you, it apparently means nothing. If you know anything about photography then you can evaluate the evidence for yourself from the NASA moon landing photos.

        July 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Manny

      Hey Ross you're probably one of the guys that want to see O'bamas real birth certrificate!!!!

      July 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • sanjosemike

      Ross, astronaut Buzz Aldrin Neil Armstrong left a laser reflector of 100 mirrors that allows scientists to get information about the Moon, by evaluating the relfection of their lasers.

      I assume you're joking, but they actually DO work, since they were placed there on July 21, 1969.

      sanjosemike

      July 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • oodoodanoo

      I don't know why you (and only you) are being forced to investigate, but tell whoever's holding your kids hostage that nobody minds if you don't.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  82. Ike

    I heard they put taillights on it and the right turn light will blink all the time, just to drive any Martians nearby nuts!

    July 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  83. SI Units

    I appreciate the effort in this article to provide both metric and imperial units in this story.

    I'm sure the AP style guide still recommends that imperial units be used in writing intended for American readers, but the use of both in context here made me remember the apocryphal stories about imperial / metric trajectory insertion calculation on (was it?) the mars polar lander.

    For a country that prides itself on being free of the British, it is ironic that we are still chained to their antiquated measures.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Counting by Tens

      We waste about $100 billion every year* (40X the cost of a one-time Mars lander) by being the only country still using feet, pounds, ounces and furlongs. But every time anyone proposes that we join the rest of the world the right wing starts squealing about a conspiracy to turn us into European socialists. So much for American "exceptionalism".

      *Source: AAAS

      July 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  84. Patrick

    You need a place to put all of the Tea Party Repubs (including Mittens and his magic underwhere)

    July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Petercha

      You need a place to put all your hatred, Patrick.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Dan

      The world would be a nicer place without pathetic little d-bags like you in it. Grow up.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  85. joel

    this is the 5th manned mission to mars since 1998 when man first went to mars

    July 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • JonfromLI

      Wait a minute. Man has actually stepped foot on the surface of Mars and I missed it? Jeez where the heck was I?

      July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  86. Badly-Bent

    Mars has clouds?

    July 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Petercha

      Short answer – yes.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  87. Doug

    Terrifying except no human lives involved. Expensive should be the word.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • buddycouch

      The question is, if you could go (with food/water of course), would you be willing to be with this rover upon touch down....................haha.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  88. Hillizard

    Thanks NASA, for helping us look beyond the mundane and pedestrian aspects of human existence (that so many people seem to believe are more important than the search for knowledge). Your scientific quests address big issues, are forward-thinking and raise the human spirit... at least for those of us who've not yet lost a youthful sense of wonder. I tip my space helmet to you all, incl. JPL!

    July 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Cindy Maddy

      Here Here!!!

      July 16, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  89. Jay G

    Why would this landing be more dangerous than the landings on the moon!?

    July 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Just A. Guy

      More gravity, atmosphere, wind, dust, heat.......................

      July 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Drinky Crow

      Because the moon is static. It doesn't have the wind, dust storms or atmospheric density changes that Mars has. But, of course, no extraterrestrial landing is without risk.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
      • buddycouch

        Can't you just tune into Marsweatherchannel.com and get a 300 day outlook?

        July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Tom

      Radio signal time delay, for one. Mars is so distant that guidance from earth won't work. Hence, the lander must be entirely self-contained and "smart" so that it can sense and react to changing and unexpected conditions. The number of variables involved is staggering and the success envelop is so small. No wonder they call it 7 minutes of terror. But what a celebration there will be when/if the first signal arrives back on Earth after a successful landing! I'd love to be part of it.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  90. Vimana

    Whats "Terrifying" about it? Unless there's a bunch of Martians up there who dont want the thing to crash on top of them. Otherwise stop sensationalizing headlines.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • nowayjose

      @Vimana – it is terrifying because many years (decades) of hard work, not to mention billions of dollars, are riding on it. Landing is the most dangerous time in the mission, and a failure can set the program back for decades. It is terrifying to those who care about it and understand the importance.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Robert

      Terrifying = $1 Billion investment

      July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • CNN Reader

      Veranda, haven't you heard, the Martians have an "lludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator"

      July 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
      • Petercha

        lol! I loved that show when I was a kid!

        July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
      • Scott

        PU-36, but yeah

        July 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Polymath

      Reaching Mars really is difficult. We've failed on several attempts. The Soviets/Russians have been successful 0 out of 19 attempts.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • tom hoffelder

      Amen Vimana! You are right on! A robot can't be terrified. No one in the control room will be terrified. Using that word, and NASA used it originally, is pure sensationalism.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
      • oodoodanoo

        One day, when we've invented real artificial intelligence, will these robots be transmitting back during the landing, "AAARRGHHH! Holy sh**! Holy sh**! Oh please, oh please, oh please I don't wanna die! F***! How do I slow down! Oh God, please just let me (static)....."

        July 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  91. Just A. Guy

    They should have just sent a jeep cherokee (2001 XJ, not one of these so called grand cherokees) . climb 25" obstacles, pathetic.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Andrew

      A jeep Cherokee wouldn't start on mars, the atmosphere is too thin and there is no oxygen, the jeep would only collect dust

      July 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Ike

      But, a Jeep Cherokee would run out of gas in 2 hours! Ok, exaggeration.....5 hours

      July 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • JonfromLI

        I understand that Chrysler is coming out with a hybrid model capable of going upwards of 20 mpg on a single tank!

        July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
      • Matt

        What does it do on the second tank?

        July 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  92. atteckus

    $2.5 Billion spent, banking entirely on an organized crash landing. I'm not encouraged. And how many bridges could we have restored or schools been built or poor people fed for this same money? I generally support NASA's aim, because it has immense fall out for technological development and the advancement of science. It also creates or maintains great jobs for scientists, engineers and the like. But this one seems too costly and risky in regard to the potential benefits.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jay G

      Ugh atteckus – no, this money would not have been better spent feeding the poor. We need to continue to advance science and explore the universe.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • cosman

      Do you make the same argument each time we spend 2.5 billion from the military budget?

      July 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • KWS

      California's idiotic Dems are going to waste FOUR TIMES this much on an ill-conceived bullet train segment to nowhere. Go whine at THEM! Space exploration has contributed massive amounts of knowledge, technology and learning to the world. It isn't wasted.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Fritz Hohenheim

      Too costly? The chance of finding trace of life? I think nothing is too costly when it helps proofing the bible wrong. That will increase everybody's living conditions more in the long run than bridges.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  93. John Lubeck

    NASA has all the fun.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  94. Jack

    The best of luck to all the engineers who made this happen, keep exploring.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  95. Les

    Yes, apparently to alter the center of gravity of the craft to insure it was oriented properly on entry.Cheper and easier than rockets.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  96. EvolveNow

    Gool Luck, Curiosity.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  97. ALaska

    Now we are poluting Mars with our junk. Humans polute everything they touch.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Les

      When we get a colony there, they will clean it up. Every creature on the earth modifies its environment in some way.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • R. Smith

      Resign, smartass.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Tom

      Believe it or not, some humans also learn how to spell.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • mikeyd572

      If we put any more rovers on mars, we will have to start installing traffic lights, for all of the vehicles there!

      July 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  98. dvinman

    Like a walk in the park... Good Luck!

    July 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  99. dowhatsright

    we spend 2.5 billion dollars on a project that is basically going to tell us that hey there are rocks on mars....but 18,000 people die everyday of starvation.....give me a break who cares what is on mars....oh wait I can tell you F'IN ROCKS.....AWESOME.....

    July 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Rob

      Oh stop already with the starving people! Not having a space program isn't going to feed anyone.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Lee Downie

      That's the spirit that discovered America!!!

      July 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Farscape

      idiot

      July 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Meekers

      Apparently you can afford the interenet and some device to read cnn why dont u sell em an send those starving people your money.... Go Nasa

      July 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • TruthMatters

        Because those things are more important in a person's life these days than studying mars.

        July 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • John Lubeck

      dowhatsright ancestor was watching as Columbus was leaving for America, saying "What a waste of money".

      July 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • Dee Emm

        I think the question's valid and the answer is not so obvious. Bringing Columbus up is kind of funny though – his little junket in three crappy boats cost Ferdinand & Isabella a little more than pocket change. And it can be summed up as "He didn't know where he was going, he didn't know where he got to, and when he got home, he lied about where he'd been." Now, whether it was a waste of money or not – I'd say that's debatable too. :-) All that said and with most of the $ already spent, I'll still say "good luck to Curiosity and JPL!" But be warned, the probability of success is not 100%.

        July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Ray

      If was up to people like you, we'd still be trying to figure out how to make fire.

      What do you think fueled all the innovation that led to computers and the internet? Science! All of the things far-too-many-people take for granted in the 21st century are due to basic scientific research. THAT is what made America great in the first place.

      Suck it up and stop your whining!

      July 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • TruthMatters

        @ Ray – For a person devoted to science you sure aren't smart. Science led to innovation but that doesn't mean we should spend billions before solving other more important problems. When you get your pay cheque do you put it towards your 2 million dollar house or your 300 thousand dollar house?

        Also, there is nothing "basic" about this. And that's the point, we need to get back to basics before tackling larger issues.

        July 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
      • Tom

        So tell us, Truthy, where in the sand do you draw your arbitrary line? Is it here? Or.....here? Or just a bit over....there? Or do you just keep making excuses and ultimately end up doing nothing? Sounds like the latter.

        July 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • A

      A drop in the bucket compared to actually wasteful spending in big chunks of the budget, such as defense contractors that suck our government dry when they could deliver their product/service for a much lower cost. Also, there is a long list of technological advancements made possible by the space program that I'm sure have significantly benefited your life.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • wes

      first of all I care whats on mars. mars is mankinds next home. second of all I get so sick and tired of people saying, "Oh my gosh they spent money on some boring space thing when they could have fed someone instead" your just an iggnorent person arnt you. I on the otherhand strongly support NASA, and the scientific community.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
      • TruthMatters

        @ wes, You made absolutely no arguement whatsoever.

        July 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
      • Sandy Duncan's Glass Eye

        Wes...we'll destroy this planet before we have an opportunity to destroy another. You woeful optimism is...amusing.

        July 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • cosman

      dowhatsright.... Do you make the same argument each time 2,5 billion of the military budget is spent?

      I didn't think so.....

      July 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
      • buddycouch

        dowhatsright...Here is what they are doing just because you are out of the loop. I am 2 miles below Sector 8 posting just to let you know. We have calculated that our ability to grow sustunance beyond 2057 is not possible, so we are going to colonize Mars and send some food back for your starving masses? Ok?. Agent 4503335 WIA. Do not google anything you just read, as I will wipe it in 10 minutes.

        July 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • JonfromLI

      As Sam Kinison would say, "you think the cameraman could give the kid a sandwich?"

      Yes, there are starving people in this world, but you'd like to think that the money these so-called "care" groups put up for their advertising campaigns, which probably amounts to thousands of dollars per year, would be better off spent towards DIRECTLY providing food and shelter for these people.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Paul

      Famines are generally political acts of war. There is not an actual shortage of food. How the food is distributed or withheld is the issue. This includes the Irish potato famine.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • oodoodanoo

      Are you asking poor people to eat the rover? They will die!

      July 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  100. Josh

    I know how much each pound costs to send into space. They really had 165 pounds of nothing but added weights?

    July 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • EvolveNow

      The added weight acted like balast in an ocean going ship. They set up the correct center of gravity for a certain part of the flight. After that point they will no longer be required, just as the balast water of large ocean vessles is released just prior to entering port.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Newport

      At a little smaller than soccer balls those tungsten weights are going to slam into Mars in a fantastic fashion. NASA just wanted to put on a show for the Martians is all.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • oodoodanoo

      They forgot to mention the ten pounds of confetti that will be sprayed after the landing.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
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