July 18th, 2012
10:03 AM ET

Photos: Exploring Mars

We are pumped for the landing of Curiosity, the biggest rover yet that NASA has sent to Mars. Curiosity is scheduled to land at 1:31 a.m. ET on August 6 (that's 10:31 p.m. PT on August 5).

No spacecraft has ever landed in this way before. The 2,000-pound rover, with a cost totaling around $2.5 billion, will use a "sky crane touchdown system" to get itself safely (we hope) to the Martian surface. This popular video "Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror" illustrates the process.

Curiosity will make its way to Gale Crater, which houses several miles of sediment for the rover to explore.

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Filed under: Mars
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Victoria

    What exactly is different and significant (i.e. better) about this mission/landing than the ones I remember from my youth? Am I confused? I was pretty sure we've done this before, right?

    August 6, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  2. Nicc

    DOPE!!!

    August 6, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  3. Portland tony

    The irony of the naysayers comments are that we Americans just can't afford it..nor do we have the will........Well the Chinese have the money, are developing the technology and have the national will for excellence. So there won't be little green men to welcomeus should America ever get to Mars. They will greet us in Mandarin!

    July 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • intothemoonbeam

      I guarantee if China ever says they are sending men to Mars the U.S. will make sure they get their first. Which is why I wish China would announce a Mars mission because it would actually push the U.S to get there.

      The U.S. has the money and technology to get to Mars, they just don't use the money towards space exploration, instead we use the money for useless wars and bank bailouts.

      July 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  4. Jorge Alves

    If is there anyone capable of "landing" on Mars, that will be NASA. After the moon, Mars it will be our next destination out of the Earth. All the world is waiting for that, as all the world was waiting for a man on the moon in the 60's. It will be another unifiying step for all the mankind..and we are needed for such a moment...our world is coming to an end sooner than we think and we need an alternative. And a unifying moment will be a celebration for all the human people.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  5. Neo

    I dont see anything "This Gallery has expired"

    Have they forgotten to brush all alien structures out of the pictures as they do in general, so they had to set them all offline?

    July 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  6. Boricua

    Se nota que esas fotos son falsas...Que se lo crea el que quiera, pero Yo no.
    ah y no digo que no hallan llegado a Marte, pero las fotos no son de alla.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  7. Skyler

    The final photo of the Earth/moon system 88M miles away is profoundly surreal. Wow.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  8. Quato

    Tell Quaid to watch out for Richter and Cohaagen.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  9. Cmorcat

    Maybe this is how our ancestors felt when they started sending probes from Mars to the little blue marble closer to the sun. They knew their planet was dying and needed to find someplace safe. They must have been terrified when the first probes sent back images of dinosaurs.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Nat

    Haunting to see landscapes such as mountain ranges on another planet. We are really lucky to be living in this time of early exploration. My only frustration is that I won't be here in a few hundred years to see how far we have come.

    July 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  11. Captain Picard

    My pseudonym aside, I grew up watching Star Trek and Total Recall, and I can't wait until there is a Mars colony. A real, actual colony where pioneers raise their families, not just a research station of some sort. If it happens in my lifetime, I'll probably never be able to go there (I'll be too old and feeble), but I want to see it happen!

    July 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • phk46

      While a colony on Mars is somewhat attractive as a fallback in case something fatal happens to Earth, getting a useful colony going is daunting. The cost of resupply from Earth is so large that it really needs to be almost completely self sufficient from the start.

      How about we first try to establish a totally self sufficient colony on the desert highlands of Antarctica? That would be a lot easier, but still very unlikely.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  12. DC

    Good Luck Curiosity! God Speed! Love the images!

    July 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  13. Barry G.

    What amazing pictures!

    Way to go NASA.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  14. John

    I have always wondered...let's say ghosts are real for a second. IF someone died, say a future astronaut, on Mars in some crash, would he be the most bored ghost ever? What would you haunt? Who would you haunt? Would TAPS fly to mars and try to make contact?

    July 18, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • rjp34652

      Somebody has been watching too much television.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Rob

      Why would a ghost be stuck on Mars anyway?

      July 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  15. Bob B

    I like the idea of the space station and going back to the moon, but I think at this stage going to Mars is a waste of money. When they figure out how to get there faster then go for it, but at this time it doesn't make sense.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Scott

      It's either "get there faster" or "get there efficiently". Right now, we want to lean towards the latter.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • rjp34652

      Although I agree with you on your reasoning, I don' believe that there will be ANY lunar or Martian expeditions by humans for quite a long time. Such things require financial and politcal stability on earth. Right now we've got none of that.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • phk46

      I beg to differ. IMO the manned space program is a huge waste of money. Almost everything that can be done with manned missions could be done for an order of magnitude less money with unmanned missions. The space station does nothing useful. The shuttle program was useful for repairing Hubble. But if we hadn't had the shuttle we could probably have created an unmanned mission to fix it. Or we could have put up a replacement Hubble for less than the cost of the manned program.

      Unmanned missions all over the solar system will teach us much more than anything putting people up there can do now.

      *Someday* we may find something out there that is so compelling that we can justify a manned mission. (E.g. If we find a city full of little green people who invite us to dinner.)

      Right now the manned space program is like the Blue Angels – just a very expensive PR program. (But *way* more expensive!)

      July 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
      • Jose

        Manned space programs has brought over 8000 patents and 7 trillions dollars in profits over the last 40 years. its not a waste of time or money, is a long term investment.

        July 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  16. phk46

    I certainly wish this spacecraft well on its landing. I'm a great fan of unmanned space exploration.

    But Curiosity's landing technique sure seems to be something Rube Goldberg would have loved.
    There are so many ways this can go wrong! I will be amazed if it all works.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  17. Packrat

    This is exciting, I've been watching all this since Pathfinder........

    Good luck to Nasa and all

    July 18, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  18. Debra

    Very Excited myself!!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  19. intothemoonbeam

    I'm really excited about this. It's sad that majority of the general public probably has no idea that the biggest rover yet is less than a month away from Mars, mostly because the American media is too focused on political garbage.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Rob

      and behavier control..

      July 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

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