Mars landing: It could be crazier
A model of Rover Curiosity on display at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
August 2nd, 2012
08:18 PM ET

Mars landing: It could be crazier

Program note: Tune in to and CNN Mobile for live coverage of the Curiosity's landing on Mars, starting at 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

Pasadena, California (CNN) - An hour before the Mars rover Curiosity is scheduled to make its dramatic touchdown on the surface of our neighboring planet, there must be peanuts.

David Oh, lead flight director for the mission, explains that it has been a tradition for decades to open up cans of peanuts and pass them around to the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory responsible for overseeing the landing of the rover. Curiosity is scheduled to land at 1:31 a.m. ET Monday.

“It’s always been a lucky charm for us, and missions have always seemed to work out better when we had the peanuts there,” Oh said. “For landing this, I’ll take all the great engineering we have, and all the luck you can give us, too.”

Given how complicated and intricate this landing will be, it’s no surprise that scientists are taking extra precautions, even superstitious ones.

NASA has launched a tool called Eyes on the Solar System that lets you visualize Mars and its surroundings using the latest data. There’s even a mode where you can see the landing process. The popular NASA video “Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror” also illustrates just how extraordinary this landing is going to be.

Although "it looks a little bit crazy," Adam Steltzner, lead engineer overseeing how the rover is arriving, said, "I promise you it is the least crazy of the methods you could use to get a rover the size of Curiosity on Mars."

Steltzner gave reporters some of the landing highlights Thursday:

Starting out, the spacecraft is traveling 13,000 mph. Reaction control jets will help Curiosity steer its way through the atmosphere – called the “hypersonic entry phase.” Then comes the parachute, about 1,000 mph, with the world's largest supersonic parachute (69-foot diameter).

The rover then loses its heat shield and starts looking for the ground. About a mile above the surface, rocket engines will slow the rover from 200 mph to 1.5 mph, in straight vertical flight. Curiosity will separate from the descent stage structure about 20 meters above the surface and continues “gently toward the surface.” The descent stage will be cut and will fly off to a safe distance, “leaving Curiosity wheels down on the Martian terrain ready to begin the surface mission.”

Even while cruising through space, the Mars Science Laboratory has been doing science. Since 10 days after launch, the radiation detector aboard the spacecraft has been helping scientists characterize the radiation environment, which is useful to know if you’re going to send humans there someday.

The radiation environment on Mars is different because it doesn’t have a global magnetic field protecting it, and its atmosphere is only 1% the thickness of Earth's.

Researchers have observed several spikes in radiation inside the rover during the journey, notably in March. While that particular spike wouldn't have been lethal to a human, on a mission to Mars that would last two to three years, those dosages add up. It is a significant contribution to an astronaut’s total lifetime dose limit, said Donald Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Curiosity has 17 cameras on board, with seven in the mast alone. This means it can cover a range of resolutions from a few millimeters to a few microns in scale. Curiosity has cameras significantly more advanced than the ones aboard the most recent previous rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. “We have the equivalent of an 8GB card in each camera,” said Michael Malin, president and chief scientist of Malin Space Science Systems.

This rover has a tough challenge: understanding and determining the habitability of Mars. We know that life requires three main ingredients: a solvent (water), structure (carbon compounds) and energy, said Michael Meyer, lead scientist on the Mars Exploration Program. Other Mars missions have shown that the planet may have been habitable in the past. Curiosity will look for organic molecules, which may suggest that life has existed on Mars, although it’s not proof.

As Curiosity climbs up Mount Sharp, its destination, it will examine its flat sedimentary layers that formed over time. We don’t know how this mountain was created, because Mars has no plate tectonics like Earth does, says John Grotzinger, the lead scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission.

There is a lot to be excited about for Curiosity on Mars. But first it has to get there. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is buzzing with scientists and journalists eager to see it happen.

Post by:
Filed under: Mars • News
soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. SHAWN

    Starting out, the spacecraft is traveling 13,000 mph. Reaction control jets will help Curiosity steer its way through the atmosphere – called the “hypersonic entry phase.” Then comes the parachute, about 1,000 mph, with the world's largest supersonic parachute (69-foot diameter). THIS IS WHAT WAS UP IN THE BODY OF THE ARTICLE. HAHHAHAHA

    August 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  2. mdmann

    Are the naysayers eating crow today?

    Methinks they are. 🙂

    Note to the layman...leave the engineering of space exploration to the adults who actually know something about what they are doing. Best to keep your mouths shut on such issues, lest you be thoroughly trounced.

    August 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Cynical

      That would be excellent advice to most lay people on any technical subject. Those who decided to avoid science courses after middle school should stick to worrying about movie stars and athletes. We already have more than enough believers in junk science to screw things up. Next time your cell phone can't get a signal, go find some of those idiots who are sure cell towers are giving them cancer. Take their cell phones away. You'll be saving their lives. And make sure they don't let their kids get whooping cough shots. Just make them move to some uninhabited island in the middle of the ocean so they don't infect everyone else.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:52 am |
      • mdmann

        100% agreement from me on everything you said! Every time someone makes some comment about science in a negative fashion from a position of complete ignorance, why response is "Well, what technological advances that you take for granted in your life are you willing to give up?"

        Deafening silence, shameless backpedaling, or a ramp up in their stupidity is the result. The latter is the far more likely result.

        Where I live, the local "science scandal" is about smart meters. I nearly blow a gasket every time this issue comes up. These people think nothing of having a cell phone next to their head for hours at a time every day, but the idea of having a smart meter installed on their home is evidence of some conspiracy to spy on them and give them cancer.

        August 14, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  3. dave

    Hoowwwwaaaarrrddddd...did you and your friends manage to land that space truck on Mars?


    OK, as long as you remember to WASH IT before you bring it back in the house.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  4. W l jones

    Mars atmosphere is heavy enough to land by rocket.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Julian

      The efficacy of rocket thrusters has nothing to do with atmosphere. Remember 'For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"? If they needed an atmosphere to work then it would be impossible to align craft in space for docking or to move satellites from one orbital position to another.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • mdmann

      You aren't one of these people who thinks rockets move by pushing against the air, are you?

      If so, PLEASE go find a high school physics book.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  5. $tillRun!

    I don't know about you guys...But that ACME company sticker on the side of Curiosity got me worried.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  6. Grandpa RD

    I'm setting my alarm Sunday night to wake me up early so I can tune in to NasaTV. This rover landing safely will be a HUGE step in Mars exploration.

    If it fails, I'll be there to share the collective groan once again.

    August 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  7. Roy

    The mere fact that this mission might determine if life exists elsewhere in the universe is staggering. To me it is a no brainer that it does but proof of it will rank up there with the moon landing as one of mankind's greatest achievements. Now after the discovery of the Higg's bosun all we have to do is break the light barrier and we are off and running!

    August 4, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • Sage on the Hudson

      "Break the light barrier"'ve been watching too much "Star Trek."

      And it's Higgs boson, not "bosun."

      August 4, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • Art Ledoux


      August 4, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  8. Kevin

    How about using a glider to land the rover on Mars?

    August 4, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • Ahoy

      at that decent speed i don't think it'll be viable.

      August 4, 2012 at 10:35 am |
      • Ahoy

        descent rather

        August 4, 2012 at 10:35 am |
      • John

        Given how thin the Martian atmosphere is, using a glider isn't practical without a prepared landing strip. The stall speed (minimum speed at which an aircraft can fly, as opposed to fall) would be so high that it would likely need a runway several miles long.

        August 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
      • larry gould

        wrong, amazing accomplishment

        August 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Dwight


    August 4, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  10. et

    Get all the lucky charms ready, 4 leaf clover, a statue of Buddha, a cross, a horseshoe, a scarab beetle, a swastika, The nut of the Rudraksh tree, an acorn and while they are at it might as well recite a lucky spell. Because for 7 minutes while "CURIOSITY" is approaching the Mars surface it would rely solely on an onboard computer to activate the parasuit to slow its descend. Of course I trust the computer more than humans.

    And one last thing that they should have, a copy of their resume, because if it fails might as well look for another job.

    August 4, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • Art Ledoux

      HA HA !!! Yes to all the good luck that can be found!!!

      August 4, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  11. Judicar

    NBC wil probably tape-delay the landing.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Joshua

      lol. Then have Mat lower talk over it.

      August 4, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  12. tupelo

    If they pull this landing off, this is beyond beautiful. Good Luck NASA/JPL.

    That Sky Crane, Fsck .. that looks a rough go.
    Great Minds.. that do not get enough funding.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Terence

      If they're looking for funding, why not strip it away from the manned Mars mission.
      Why go to Mars? Just to plant a flag?
      Use those money to land a few more robots.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
      • Joshua

        I can agree. Now with Mars One a private corp. sending people to live there in 2023.

        August 4, 2012 at 1:22 am |
      • Admiral B

        I cannot agree, for at least two reasons. First, like it or not, near-space will be as politically/militarily important in the next centuries as North America was in the 16th to 18th centuries. Recall that Spain and Portugal were the pre-eminent powers in the early days of exploration; today, they are quaint relics of the past. Recall, also, that Robert Heinlein correctly pointed out that any country on Earth can be threatened with harm by any power on the moon, simply by their throwing rocks that take advantage of Earth's gravity well. OK – that's the first reason. The second is that, sooner or later, humans will have to find alternate real-estate as Earth becomes uninhabitable. That may be due to global climate change ["sooner"] or to our sun's eventual decay ["later"]. But it will happen. The sooner we learn how to live successfully outside our own planet, the sooner we'll have the option and be able to exercise it.

        August 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  13. Richard

    NASA, impoverished, stripped of the Shuttle, having to beg, hat in hand to the Russians to launch people to the orbiting $180 billion white elephant, the ISS. NASA, whose new "mission" is promoting the myth of global warming. Nice to see they still manage to do some space exploration.

    August 3, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • JoseVHK

      'Myth of global warming'? ... Half the U.S. is scorched, there is now an Artic navigational passage and Greenland will soon say bye-bye to its ice cap; and there are still trilobites like you believing global warming is a myth? There is certainly no myth here as to how China has surpassed us as an industrial power – is there? With people like you we suffer an I.Q. deficit disorder.

      August 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
      • Terence

        I trust NASA more to do Global Climate Change research than any of the right wing think tanks backed by oil/coal.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
      • sanjose

        I like it warmer, we have been trying to change weather all along. sucess!

        August 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
      • Danstar25

        Amen JoseVHK amen!

        August 4, 2012 at 1:04 am |
      • Joshua

        Also last winter was the hottest on record i believe. Can't forget that..... But its ok. Keep burning your coal and sucking the earth dry of oil. See where it leads us in 40 years.

        August 4, 2012 at 1:24 am |
      • n2video

        "right wing think tanks" Now THAT'S an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

        August 4, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • VJATL

      Richard – are you just plain ignorant or trying to rile up people with your misinformed comments?

      August 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • organically

      In spite of the endless proof of human induced climate change, some of the population is still in denial. There are two reasons for this (1) the occasional negative news story on the science of climate change, and (2) Rightist conservatives radicals and tea partiers either are deniers or simply do not care. There are deniers in every scientific fact. Climate change deniers threaten humanity. Reversing climate change is impossible at this point due to the international thirst for fossil fuels and our overall society living standard. This is not going to change. So, rather than talking about stopping climate change, let’s ignore the utopian deniers and begin a dialogue on how to adapt and stop dwelling on environmentally and socially damaging issues like Solyndra and the keystone pipeline.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
      • jayem13

        "Climate Change" formerly known as "Global Warming" is based on computer simulations, with lots and lots of unverifiable assumptions. What "endless proofs" are you referring to?? Don't forget that light used to be "waves in the ether" in the textbooks until Einstein came along. Just another accepted scientific theory that couldn't be proved.

        August 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Kandi


      August 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Gerald

      Myth? you're just an idiot like the last Easter Islander who cut the last tree to give offerings to his bird he plunged his entire population onto cannibalism after all the topsoil washed out to sea. Global warming is just one part of our irresponsible and unsustainable way of life.
      But thumbs up for NASA for all their efforts. We stand on top of scientific giants...who are crumbling due to cuts in engineering and science education. We're the giants the Chinese will stand on top of...and all because they will eventually put people ahead of individual and corporate greed. Unless we invest $ on education so that idiots like the poster above can actually understand what's written on a National Geographic Magazine instead of soaking his brain on Fox.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
      • sanjose

        thats terribly funny, the chinese will do what for their people? you haven't been there huh? by the way your on a molten ball of iron hurtling through space, your lucky that it is cooler than 200 degrees

        August 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
      • Daniel

        Gerald you ass, dont you know that we already spend more money per pupil than any other country in the world? Tell me more about how we have to "invest" in education. How can you blame anyone other than crap teachers? Im sure you can find some other reason how the republicans and fox news are to blame for your kids poor grades though

        August 3, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
      • Art Ledoux

        TOUCHE!!!!!! Could't have said it better myself; well ,not without some choice words to finish. IT NEEDED TO BE SAID!!! Not to target just one person , but to all ! ! ! Hats off to all teachers who day after day put up with unspeakable CRAP & then go home & try to be normal to their own families.!!!!

        August 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  14. dasea

    It seems like a lot of the focus was to not obstruct the rover on the ground with the landing devices. I have questions concerning air pressure being very slight yet that parachutes still work. The parachute must be truly massive, yet it only weighs 100 pounds? I must not understand the nature of these atmospheres. Couldn't they have just made a couple more parachutes? Good luck Nasa because your images of the face of Mars could use the new cameras. This might be really cool in a couple months.

    August 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • dasea

      also I am for lifting the out space test ban treaty, because photos on the ground of a martian nuclear blast would be the most awesome bit of tape Humans could ever achieve

      August 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • n2video

      dasea, the "face on Mars" which you allude to is nothing more than odd shadows playing on a natural mound of rock. What you exhibit in your post is a human phenomenon called "anthropomorphology", the assigning of human or familiar attributes to something that is not human or familiar. There is no face on Mars.

      August 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
      • Hampton

        What she is referring to is a simple figure of speech. The surface of the planet

        August 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Terence

      This being a supersonic parachute. I think if it was any bigger, it would collapse at that speed.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  15. DM

    What's to watch? The Paparazzi won't be there. Won't it have to cool i's jets for a week or month? All we will get is a thumbs up or down concerning landing in one piece?

    August 3, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • n2video

      The cameras will turn on almost immediately after a safe landing. There will be radio signals sent from the rover first to confirm a safe landing, and then the cameras will turn on.

      August 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  16. MrId

    This is why we have NASA!!!!!

    This will inspire a younger generation to take up the torch and go forward!

    Only wish they could stream the re-entry. Sounds like a wonderful and wild ride!

    August 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Kevin Cline

      And that powerful, dynamic flying machine that lands the rover! Wow, I wonder what kind of
      landing gear it has! Sky Cranes on earth have done thousands of missions per sky crane! All that
      work to get a powerful sky crane on Mars, and now the adventure begins. AND with the nuclear
      fuel issue on the table, it'll fly exceedingly long distances! Adventure! That's what it's all about, right?

      August 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • n2video

        Kevin, I believe the nuclear power plant doesn't start its operation until after Curiosity is safely on the surface. The rocket engines that initially slow down the craft are either liquid or solid rocket fueled.

        August 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  17. chris

    Captain janeway USS of nine,on my mark transport a photon torpedo onto that borg cube that is set to detinate five seconds after it materializes"

    seven......yes captain",(helmsman) on my mark full reverse course against that borg tractor beam then jump to warp as we fre it,that should buy us a few seconds before that torpedo goes off"

    paris....captain........ if we dont jump to warp fast enough that torpedo will destroy voyager also' problem at a time Tom"


    August 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  18. Gregory Faith

    I've set my alarm for a O dark Thity wake up! Would not miss this for all the tea in China! Go NASA!! GOOD LUCK!

    August 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  19. rockshow

    8 GB of memory?
    With the high resolution cameras they use, that's about 3 pictures.

    I really hope this works but the odds aren't good.
    Unless they have SUPERB engineering, it sounds like their landing will fail.
    Too many technical pieces to control remotely and to have to work perfectly.

    A safer landing would have been airbags and stadium-big chutes, or even wing based horizontal landing.

    August 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Cheeko

      From what I know talking with friends who work at JPL, chutes/airbags wouldn't work. The vehicle is too heavy. They wouldn't have been able to launch it from earth.

      August 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Frank

      Wow, we should fire all of the engineers at JPL and replace them with you. Since you clearly have all the answers and know more then them.

      They have already answered why none of what you have suggested would work. You should do a little research before running your mouth about people who are smarter then you.

      August 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
      • yaya


        August 3, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • buzzman

      8GB in each camera, with 17 cameras, also compression techniques can reduced picture size until it needs to be uncompressed, as well they could just be using it as temporary storage to queue and stream the data back to earth.

      August 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
      • Newguy

        And tranmsitting data costs precious energy. Its alot better to transfer a 3meg picture then a 80meg with a little higher resolution.

        August 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • TheBob

      "or even wing based horizontal landing." Mars atmosphere has nowhere near the density needed to support winged flight. Next time you decide to offer consultation to NASA on how to land on Mars, make sure you've glanced through "Mars for Dummies" beforehand. And "stadium big chutes"? You think they're driving a moving truck to Mars and they can just pack whatever the hell they want in it? M0r0n.

      August 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
      • jw

        Actually it does (have enough atmosphere for winged flight). Not a 747 mind you, but a "sail plane" with VERY LONG wings and a hydrazine powered engine was proposed int he 1980's for atmospheric exploration. With the advances in solar tech and the "micro-aircraft" that have been developed, I am somewhat surpirised that a flying platform of some kind (rechargable????) might have been flown with the rover.

        August 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • rockshow

      LOL...good replies/comments for the most part.
      I'm as excited about Curiosity as most people here are.
      But I can't help it but feel that this particular landing is way over-engineered. (I'm hoping i'm proved wrong of course).

      August 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • outlander

      Holy smokes! You know more than NASA! Keep reading Popular Mechanics!

      August 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • worldlypatriotusaveteran

      @rockshow: Sorry to burst your knowledge bubble.

      YOUR COMMENT: "With the high resolution cameras they use, that's about 3 pictures."

      THE TRUTH:

      "With 8 gigabytes of internal memory, Mastcam can hold 5,500 raw images, which can be compressed on the fly or just before transmission back to Earth."

      Source: (Aug. 2, 2012)

      August 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • rockshow

        Thank you Captain Obvious.
        It's called sarcasms

        August 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
      • steven harnack

        @roskshow, before you try "sarcams" you need to know what it is. That was a really lame attempt at cleanup.

        August 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
      • rockshow

        Wrong. Even a 10 year old knows that you can store more than 3 pics in 8 GB.
        And thanks for the spell check, Webster.

        August 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Paul

      From what I think I understand it is not controlled remotely. The calculations and decisions are made by the computers on board.

      August 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • VJATL

      Rockshow troll.. 🙂

      August 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
      • rockshow

        What's a troll?
        Someone who disagrees with something and that expresses concern with over-engineering?
        Trust me...I DO want this landing to work. The machine on-board is going to advance human beings 100x fold.
        I'm just concerned about the landing procedure being to failure-prone.

        August 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • mdmann

      Do you honestly believe that these NASA engineers didn't examine multiple ways to do this and came upon the solution they felt had the best chances (and probably was economical and feasible from an engineering standpoint)? The fact that you suggest using a winged structure alone indicates that you aren't sufficiently well-versed in this topic to be offering up an opinion about whether or not it will fail. And a stadium-sized parachute would have probably meant the mission couldn't even leave Earth within budget.

      Sure, you have the ability to offer an opinion, but that doesn't mean you should do it. Offer an opinion about something you know. You put yourself out there on stuff you have no clue about and you have to expect that others are going to respond–most likely negatively.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  20. TomGI

    I've been excited for a year waiting for this landing. My employers had some electronic parts on Spirit. We really enjoyed watching its success. Now we get to watch the adventures of Curiosity. Sweet!

    August 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  21. High Way

    Just for argument sake. 1 million years from now, if humanity vanishes for whatever reason and new species emerge from earth. If they send probes to mars for exploration they might think there existed a civilisation on mars, if they find our mars probes, if they survive that long, sent by humans.

    August 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Pliny

      I would rather that WE get to Mars.....

      ...and find a big black monolith.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
      • matt0

        I'm sorry, Pliny. I'm afraid I can't do that.

        August 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • lazurite


        August 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
      • Michael

        My God ... it's full of stars !! Sign me up for First Contact !!

        August 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  22. Pliny

    This is the 2nd coolest thing NASA has ever done. GOOD LUCK JPL....thanks for this!!!

    The article is wrong about the landing sequence in many key spots. If you want to see the whole "7 Minutes of Terror" goto the APOD link.

    Once again....Good luck JPL. DARE MIGHTY THINGS

    August 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  23. superior truth king of all the lesser-knowing

    Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies looking at whether social class (as measured by wealth, occupational prestige, and education) influences how much we care about the feelings of others. In one study, Piff and his colleagues discreetly observed the behavior of drivers at a busy four-way intersection. They found that luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists instead of waiting for their turn at the intersection. This was true for both men and women upper-class drivers, regardless of the time of day or the amount of traffic at the intersection. In a different study they found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk, even after making eye contact with the pedestrian.

    In order to figure out whether selfishness leads to wealth (rather than vice versa), Piff and his colleagues ran a study where they manipulated people’s class feelings. The researchers asked participants to spend a few minutes comparing themselves either to people better off or worse off than themselves financially. Afterwards, participants were shown a jar of candy and told that they could take home as much as they wanted. They were also told that the leftover candy would be given to children in a nearby laboratory. Those participants who had spent time thinking about how much better off they were compared to others ended up taking significantly more candy for themselves–leaving less behind for the children.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Jeremiah the Science Nerd!

      So, you are suggesting that Curiosity will cut off Spirit and Opportunity and take their candy?

      August 3, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Bruno

      You lost me at "social class."

      August 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  24. Barry G.

    I hope the landing on Mars is successful. We may need to live there some day, given that we've nearly destroyed the Earth.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • ionymous

      It's not as bad as all that.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Quaid

      See you at the PAAATY Richter !!

      August 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  25. Sam

    "We know that life requires three main ingredients: a solvent (water), structure (carbon compounds) and energy", Well then what about the silicone based HORTA!

    August 3, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • John

      The Horta is fiction, not fact. People have speculated about life that uses silicon in place of carbon, but, so far, no such life form has been found.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Bones

      "Damnit Jim, I'm a Doctor, not a brick layer"

      August 3, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  26. crappygovernment

    I just wish NASA hadn't faked the Moon landings...Feel free to click on my name for my own Apollo tribute site.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • crappygovernment

      NASA = welfare for engineers and defense contractors

      August 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
      • steven harnack

        Shouldn't you be chasing kids off of your lawn?

        August 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
      • dasea

        no see.. welfare is welfare for defense contractors and engineers. You must think poor people are stupid.

        August 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
      • tupelo

        "NASA = welfare for engineers and defense contractors"

        There is this site called facebook for you, go "like" some creed songs kid.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • Nick

        Americans used to take pride in their unmatched science and engineering prowess... At one time, a parent would be overjoyed if their kid said they wanted to be a rocket scientist.

        August 5, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Bill in Florida

      No thanks; I'll never click on your conspiracy-theory site. JFK is dead, so is Elvis, and Americans landed on the Moon several times.

      August 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
      • intothemoonbeam

        You left out the 9/11 inside job theories.

        August 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
      • crappygovernment

        like WMDs in Iraq? Tell your naive friends to check out my site about the Apollo hoaxes, it's not going away!

        Do you really think we had better technology in 1969 than currently?

        August 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
      • MrId

        Elvis is frozen in kryptonite in a missle silo in South Dakota. The government thaws him out when they want to get "things done". Who do you think killed Bin Laden? SEALs? HA!

        August 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Bruno

      We have better technology today than in 1969 and we also landed on the moon. I hope your IP is on a list somewhere for advanced monitoring, because you sir, are nuts.

      August 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Michael

      Dude, you are so Capricorn One. Each and every one of your points are based on fallacy and not physics. The pressure conspiracy, footprints under the LEM (YOU try walking under a LEM in a full suit), absence of stars in "some" pictures (this is so easily explained as to be truly rediculous) and the "crazy" shadow patterns on the moon? It's all physics, Baby; each consiracy point easily refutable. If WE didn't go to the moon, how do you explain the images Hubble has of the landing zones, showing the decent stage and the US flags? Riddle me that, Ultra Maroon !!

      August 7, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  27. Nick

    Proud to have JPL right here in L.A.

    Good luck on this very cool mission.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  28. BobPhxville

    I think NASA forgot the number 1 rule of successful engineering – KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. I am not saying that this will not work. However, it is such a Rube Goldbergian solution, they certainly tilted the odds against themselves.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Cheeko

      The problem is that this really IS the simplest solution. Short of a MASSIVE retro rocket (ie massive fuel and cost to launch from earth) there is no technology currently to get large payloads onto Mars easily. The problem is the super thin atmosphere, you can't slow a payload like you can on earth. Additionally the massive weight meant the airbags (used in previous missions) would need to be so big we couldn't launch it from earth. Also its first bounce would possibly be 10s of kilometers high. The only way to decelerate it to a slow enough landing speed was using a combination of methods.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • BobPhxville

        I understnad your point. I believe that I recollect that a significant portion of the complexity of this landing has to do with the impact of Mars surface dust on the lander – that is why they need to lower the lander onto the surface from a height using the cable arrangement. I would think that it should have been possible to harder the lander against the dust impact, and that could have somewhat simplified the landing process. I know it does not make too much sense to second guess the best engineering minds in the world, but I guess thats what comment boards like this are for...

        August 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Hexdragon01

      I just hope they didn't get their Newtons and Foot Pounds mixed again...

      August 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  29. Wes

    I hope the guy that concocted this landing procedure never worked at Perkins-Elmer. He (they) probably cannot remember the sixties either. This is the most convoluted landing I have ever laughed at; and I have seen a lot of REALLY, REALLY BAD ones. One remarkable fact is that there is already life on Mars: it is us. We are already littering another planet with our junk, while Chic-fil-whatever is shaking their fists at... whatever they are shaking their fists at. Why doesn't NASA have a bake sale to finance their next mission? I thought our space program was over. We need a miracle everyday. Where is Frank Zappa?

    August 3, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Chris

      Thanks you made me laugh today, Needed that........

      August 3, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Nadine

      The Space Program will never be over as long as there are people who look to the stars. The Shuttle program is what has ended – for now. There is a push for private companies to take over what was the shuttle program and one or two are really trying We need the government to return to the Space Program. So many things have come out of that program that we now use in everyday life – even those who say the Space program should not exist.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • teeb

      You definitely sound like Fordman from CA my old buddy from 25 years ago. Peace my friend...

      August 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • Wes

        Sorry dude, Fordman's real name was, "Bobby" he looks like a potato, He lives in Mohave in a Winnebago He got real drunk down at the Palomino. They gave him 30 days in San Berdino.

        August 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  30. PainCase

    Don't these guys realize that some extra battery/solar charge stations on the planet would prolonge every mission. The old plug and play routine, They could also do the rover and the wagon. You know one pack sits for charge while the others run the way. But I guess 1 step at a time. At least they are trying to get it there instead of waiting for nothing.

    August 3, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Cheeko

      An onboard nuclear generator makes all that sort of a moot point.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  31. Adam L

    This makes me wanna play Eve Online, but my trial ran out...

    August 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  32. SmellTheGlove

    Yawn... wake me up when Curiosity finds the illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Marvin the Martian

      You Earthlings make me very angry...very angry!

      August 3, 2012 at 10:00 am |
      • Jesse

        Get used to it Marvin....we will be coming in droves. Just like the move to the old west back in the 1800s....But instead of Wagons Ho, it will be HAL fire the retros...

        August 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  33. Jeremiah the science nerd!

    As a science nerd, I cannot wait to sit up all night waiting to watch this landing! Good luck NASA!

    August 3, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • john

      I want to know if they solved the problem of dust collecting on the solar panels . The dust can cripple the rover as it did (or almost did ) on the other rovers .

      August 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
      • GasPredictor

        With all the widgets and gizmos they put on these rovers, why didn't somebody think to include a whiskbroom?

        August 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
      • hithere

        I think this one uses radioactive decay to power the rover, not sure in there are solar panels involved.

        August 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
      • Cheeko

        This one doesn't use solar panels, so that won't be an issue. Its powered by an RTG. Older models are STILL powering the voyager craft after 30+ years (though at reduced output). This is a huge advantage of this rover. Its effective lifespan could be decades if taken care of properly.

        August 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
      • Brian Olewinski

        This rover wont have a problem with dust because it is not solar. It has a nuclear reactor built into it in order to provide power that way it can run the entire year without ever having problems.

        August 3, 2012 at 10:55 am |
      • Peter

        lol they solved the problem in case you have not noticed this rover does not have solar panel it is powered by a plutonium heat source electro-thermocouple.

        August 3, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • n2video

        Everyone stating that the power source is nuclear instead of solar is correct. But believe it or not, there actually IS a dust brush aboard Curiosity. Here is NASA's list of science and tools:
        CHEMISTRY & MINERALOGY (CheMin) measures mineral makeup of samples of powdered rocks and soils delivered by the arm
        SAMPLE ANALYSIS AT MARS (SAM) can detect organic compounds in powdered rocks and soils and obtain isotopic ratios for carbon and oxygen compounds in samples and atmo¬sphere
        RADIATION ASSESSMENT DETECTOR (RAD) for measur¬ing radiation dose that a human would receive on the Martian surface
        DYNAMIC ALBEDO OF NEUTRONS (DAN) measures abun¬dance of water in soil along the rover's path
        ROBOTIC ARM (RA) can place five turret-mounted devices 1.9 meters away from the rover.
        ALPHA PARTICLE X-RAY SPECTROMETER (APXS) detects elemental composition of rocks and soils within reach of the arm; sensitive to larger-mass elements than ChemCam
        MARS HAND LENS IMAGER (MAHLI) color camera for mag¬nified views of rocks and soils within reach of the arm
        DUST REMOVAL TOOL (DIRT) a brush
        POWDER ACQUISITION DRILL SYSTEM (PADS) a percus¬sive drill to take rock samples for CheMin and SAM

        Mounted to the front of the rover are BIT BOXES holding two spare bits for PADS and an OBSERVATION TRAY, onto which CHIMRA can dump sieved samples for examination by APXS and MAHLI.

        August 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jeremiah the Science Nerd!

      This rover is nuclear powered. No solar panels to worry about.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  34. AL

    So mission success is going to depend on having peanuts on hand?

    Nuts... indeed.

    August 3, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • SmellTheGlove

      Jimmy Carter will be thrilled at your approval.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  35. moribundman

    8GB memory per camera? More wasn't in the budget?

    August 3, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Kidak

      memory and all other components that are space rated (for radiation, survive low atmosphere or even vacuum environments, etc) is a whole nother thing than what a sony camera or a dell computer has.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • rob

      Although 8gb is not that impressive with todays camera technology, most of the research was focused on making hardware durable enough to not only survive launch, but survive massive amounts of radiation and environmental changes. I doubt there is anything in the camera industry that is sturdy enough to withstand the stresses of travel to another planet. On top of that, the launch, the re-entry, the landing, and the rover probably took up most of the 2.5billion dollar buget.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |
      • nugun

        Seriously, they could have fit a lot more memory. Shielding isn't really that hard for such things. It's really not.

        But I wager that more than 8GB might not have been need as the unit is going to "transmit" the data back. So think of the memory as a transmission buffer.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
      • TommyVIO

        I have an 8GB sd card in my digital camera and even if I take pictures every single day, I still takes about a week to fill it up. So 8GB per camera (not total, but each camera) i think is more than enough, besides the point that all of it will be transmitted back to earth which means that as soon as the photos/videos are transmitted, they can be deleted from the memory card and use it for new photos...

        August 3, 2012 at 10:15 am |
      • worldlypatriotusaveteran

        @nungun: For your information, there are 17 cameras on Curiosity. Some are used for navigation, only, and some are redundant.

        Mastcam, the primary imaging tool, can capture stereoscopic images in infrared, plus a whole range of wavelengths that are of importance to scientific goals. Its 8GB memory can hold 5,500 raw images, which can be compressed on the fly or just before transmission back to Earth. Once transmitted to Earth, and reception confirmed, the memory can hold another 5500 images, and repeat the process, indefinitely. It's likely the images will be sent before the memory reaches full capacity, especially at the beginning of the mission.

        Source: (8/2/2012)

        August 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  36. Mike

    This is going to be exciting. Too bad they didn't arrange prime time . . .

    August 3, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • magnus

      They should show the landing on live TV to teach NBC about how to entertain people.

      August 3, 2012 at 8:47 am |
      • n2video

        magnus, there will be no way to "show" the landing process. The cameras are all aboard the rover and they don't become operational until the rover has safely landed. After the heat shield is jetisoned, there will be active radar to navigate to the landing site, but no movie or still cameras will be operational during the landing procedure.

        August 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • classybusiness

      Perhaps it is prime time on Mars.

      August 3, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  37. Nodule

    So the N in NASA stands for Nuts?

    August 3, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  38. Hal

    Poverty will always be around no matter what.

    August 3, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  39. Hikerstud

    We know there is no life on mars because they have not asked the US for money!

    August 3, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Erich524

      Nor is there any evidence of a Starbucks.

      August 3, 2012 at 7:54 am |
      • reddog9500

        ...or Walmart.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  40. j0eschm0e

    its morning now 7:02 am eastern. has it landed yet????

    August 3, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Ken

      Curiosity is scheduled to land at 1:31 a.m. ET Monday.

      August 3, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Josh

      Ask that again on Monday morning, 8/6.

      August 3, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  41. Jt_flyer

    This is the most exciting NASA mission in years. 2 days and counting. Now that NASA has dumped that millitary space anchor -otherwise know as the space shuttle. – we can actually accomplish something in space once again.

    August 3, 2012 at 6:11 am |
    • Jeremiah the Science Nerd!

      Lets hope it works out that way. So many people have told me that they thought the space program was over when the shuttles stopped, its sad. I hope interest dosen't fade. Spending $ in the name of science and discovery is never wasted!

      August 3, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • worldlypatriotusaveteran

      For your information, many of the greatest space achievements, past, present, and future, were attained by military and intelligence-community projects.

      Unfortunately, the public cannot be told about many of these important achievements, yet, because to do so would reveal capabilities that can be easily countered or foiled by adversaries. You can be assured some of the best scientists and engineers DO have access to these tremendous space achievements and capabilities, and provide very good oversight. As with ANY government-related project, there is waste and mistakes.

      August 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  42. reddog9500

    Salted or unsalted?

    August 3, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • reddog9500

      ...Just as a matter of Curiosity.

      August 3, 2012 at 5:29 am |
      • Adam L

        two peanuts were walking down a road... one was a salted...

        August 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
      • blah9999

        I see what you did there

        August 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  43. Capt36

    I was a member of LASA, Local Aeronautics and Space Administration. We designed and built our own rockets. We had a launch control complex, made from my old soapbox derby racer frame. We learned the math to figure the final height, using protractors and coat-hanger tubes to sight from three sites. We learned how to do things in committees, and work as a group. If nothing else than causing ten kids to be successful in life, the mere existance of NASA inspired a whole 'Kennedy generation' of scientists, doctors, engineers, and yeah..., even lawyers.... NASA may be the best, 'wasteful' in some folk's eyes... federally-sponsored program that has even been! The spin-offs of technology are too numerous to imagine... Yes, if NASA had not existed, we probably would not be communicating so easily these days..... I am giddy about Monday's upcoming landing. I feel it is the only thing to look forward to, from a scaled back NASA. I hope they measure up to the task! But, to believe that a Non-NASA world would have erased poverty would be idealistic, at best.....

    August 3, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • Gas Predictor

      Yes, if it weren't for NASA, we wouldn't have cell phones now. Nevertheless, there have also been some good things coming from NASA.

      August 3, 2012 at 7:18 am |
      • Art

        Good one. I love it.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:09 am |
      • TommyVIO

        Not only cellphones, but Satellite TV, Radio, International calls to almost every country in the world. GPS...

        August 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
      • GasPredictor

        TommyVIO, I must again add, NASA has also given us some good things.

        August 3, 2012 at 10:26 am |
      • MrId

        And TANG!!!!

        August 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • classybusiness

      Capt36 thanks for sharing. How alive you must have felt while being so involved with fascinating science. I'm giddy about Monday, too. NASA has enriched all our lives.

      August 3, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • space nut

      I don't know if I misunderstand "this is the only thing to look forward to". There is SO much going on right now. We have a new space telescope getting ready that is going to be way more poweful than the hubble, we are already in a golden age of discovery in extra solar planets and any number of other items, we have a super cool probe that will get to pluto soon.. there is a whole lot going on.

      August 3, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  44. Tw1ster

    Should probably be able to land on the moon first before attempting to land on Mars

    August 3, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • J-max

      ...have already done both.

      August 3, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • caw

      The moon has less gravity and NO atmosphere to deal with. The engineering required is entirely different.

      August 3, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Michael Hunt Esq.


      August 3, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  45. Steve T.

    Space exploration is so necessary and intriguing.

    "[...] Millions of Americans struggle in poverty." At risk of sounding corny, they wouldn't have poverty to struggle in without the universe. We know hardly anything about the foundation upon which we exist. These sorts of missions put everything in perspective.

    Think about how revolutionary it would be if life was found in Mars. Every tiny insignificant problem, all the frigging iPhone vs Android arguments, it will all be absolutely nothing - as it should be. Poverty is a terrible phenomenon and there are multiple methods we can apply. But to see science and space exploration as some kind of "1%" luxury is completely, completely ridiculous, and moronic if I may say so. We have the means of conducting these sorts of experiments and it should be the primary focus of the 21st century. It should be our contribution to humanity's history, there is nothing to add to art, culture, philosophy, no pyramids to build, no religions to create - this is it.

    August 3, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • n2video

      I agree with you up to a point. What is humanity without its art and culture? To say that "there is nothing to add to art and culture" is selling humanity short. There is plenty to add. However, your other points are well-taken and speak the truth about scientific exploration.

      August 3, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • Phazon

      God created a free willed human being unfortunatly that person broke Gods only commandment to him. The foundation on that we exist is to prove to the one taunting God. Why do people do bad things? Human nature? For something to be of nature every thing in that group must do it say dogs pee on fire hydrants amd trees is that dog nature yes because they all do it. Human nature to go to war kill people Human nature? No because not all humans think this way think of this for a second and ask yourself this if evolution was true then tell me why are we the only beings on this planer that have a concience, spiritual need and are able to speak? Evolution is a faith but is evolution going to raise u from the dead or make it possible for u to see your dead loved ones again I assure you that the world may make people believe that your are notmsmart for believing in a creator rest assured those who believe in the Almighty are far wiser than those who dont remember every thing that is made requires a maker God was not made but according to science the big bang made everything that being the case who or what mademthe big bang? After some hard research you will find that evolution holds no bearings to our existence. Think of onemthing what came first the chicken or the egg?

      August 3, 2012 at 3:57 am |
      • caw

        One other thing since you asked about chicken and the egg. If you are saying something can't come from nothing, that someone must have created the beginning, then I have to ask what created god?

        August 3, 2012 at 5:46 am |
      • Potshard

        You claim to know that no other creatures on earth have a conscience or can speak. How could you know anything about these matters with such a closed mind? You sound like the pilgrims who first came to American and assumed that the natives here had no spirituality simply because you didn't recognize the spirituality that they had. Just because you don't recognize something doesn't mean it isn't present.

        August 3, 2012 at 7:27 am |
      • Mark

        The "chicken and the egg" conundrum was solved a few years ago. The egg came first! There are 2 lines of argument.
        1. Dinosaurs laid eggs long before there were even birds, much less chickens.
        2. Once upon a time there were 2 birds, male and female, they were sort of like chickens, but not quite. The female produced ova that contained genetic differences from her own genetics. The male produced sperm that were also genetically different from himself. They mated and produced an egg that was genetically different from the adults. It hatched and grew into a chicken. Genetically speaking, it became a chicken as soon as fertilization occurred.

        August 3, 2012 at 8:22 am |
      • magnus

        a person who commits a violent crime is a 'less-evolved human' and thus should be treated with less rights than an evolved human.

        August 3, 2012 at 8:50 am |
      • SmellTheGlove

        Phazon, what the fudge are you talking about (on second thought, no, don't tell me).

        August 3, 2012 at 9:23 am |
      • OldSchool

        "remember every thing that is made requires a maker God was not made but according to science the big bang made everything that being the case who or what mademthe big bang?"

        What is it that you are basing this assertion on exactly? What sort of logical gap leads you to come to the contradictory conclusion that "God was not made" while stating that "everything that is made requires a maker"? Who "made" your god then?

        Actually nothing dictates that "everything that is made requires a maker", the world around us is merely the result of natural processes... some we do not entirely understand at this point. To simply dismiss all intellectual curiosity with the explanation that "god did it" is scientifically lazy and does not hold water.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:27 am |
      • Sunil

        Phazon – there's really no need for you to post here. I mean, really.

        You do not add any value to the discussion.

        Go away.

        August 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • caw

      Phazon, why does god allow bad things to happen? Free Will? Is it man's free will to be killed by a tornado? Is it man's free will to die of starvation?

      Either god exists and does not deserve worship or god does not exist and why would anyone worship a non-existent being? Either way, god is nothing.

      August 3, 2012 at 5:40 am |
      • Kajeana

        If you read the Bible you will learn that satan rules the world right now. God takes the bad things satan does and uses them for good and to bless us. Find a good biblical church to learn at, I pray God will open your eyes to his wonders.

        August 3, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Pepinium

      Steve, I agree with everything you say. Additionally, we must not forget that nature has taught us that a species primary responsibility is to its ultimate survival and, as long as we remain in a single location we are vulnerable to being wiped out by a single cosmic event such as a Super Nova, Solar Radiation burst, Meteorite, etc. We need to expand beyond this planet and beyond this solar system and this is a process that will take thousands of years but there is no time to waste. Most human beings have trouble getting excited about any project spanning hundreds of lifetimes but we must not weaver. Future generations will one day thank us for having had the vision to understand these basic facts.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Guido Sarducci

      Anna yet we have-a this thing called Scientology pop up just recently. Any more churches out there in the dark?

      August 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  46. StayinAlive

    The cameras have 8 GB of memory. Mine has 16 GB. They must have been on a really tight budget.

    August 3, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Mark

      because they will be constantly downloading and freeing up memory anyway

      August 3, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Kevin

      Yours can't take -200 F.

      August 3, 2012 at 3:42 am |
      • BB

        Best reply ever.

        August 3, 2012 at 3:59 am |
      • Michael Hunt Esq.

        His also isn't sufficiently hardened against cosmic radiation.

        August 3, 2012 at 8:53 am |
      • Adam L

        does NASA's have angry birds app on it? nope, not even tetris. what kind of exploration are we doing here?

        August 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
      • GasPredictor

        But it's a _dry_ -200 F.

        August 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Josh

      NASA is planning to tell Congress that they need to fund an Astronaut to go to Mars to change out the camera's memory card.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Art

      If they only waited for Best Buy to have a Buy One, Get One free sale they could have had even more cards.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  47. Chris

    Read "The Case For Mars." Will explain everything you would want to know about Mars, and how and why we should get there.

    August 3, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  48. db

    The uninfomred do not realize that litterally thousands of items you use every day have their roots in NASA as the founders of the items that make what we use everyday from GPS to our digital music. To those that think NASA was a large money pit that was worthless, go back to the 1950's and look around. That is what we would have today without the invention of necessity that NASA gave us.

    August 3, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Dude

      I agree with what you are saying 100%.

      Yet, the real contribution that NASA has made to the US and to the world is less tangibly connected. The uncounted thousands of people who saw the moon landings, or the Gemini missions etc and were inspired to enter engineering or science. People don't enter engineering programs because they want to improve brakes on cars and reduce traffic accidents. But, those are the kind of inventions they create when they get out.

      I saw the first moon walk as a young kid and instantly knew science was my future. Today, my work has nothing to do with space exploration. But, I can say with 100% certainty, that you have come in contact with something I've worked on.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  49. bspurloc

    This insane landing technique is well worth staying up to Watch and Listen too....

    August 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  50. evensteven

    A tremendous accomplishment in which the entire world can be united in awe and wonder. Worth hundreds or thousands of times it's financial investment . . .

    August 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  51. Space Hater

    Another huge waste of money while millions of Americans struggle in poverty.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Yardley

      Tyson would disagree.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
      • SmellTheGlove

        Tyson chicken?

        August 3, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • TargetDestroyed01

      Space Hater: Trillions have been spent on poverty and you know what we got for it...MORE POVERTY. It would be better that we not subsidize poverty because when you do, you get more of it!.

      On the other hand, the space program is one of the very, VERY few things (national defense and other long term scientific research projects are two others) that the Federal Government actually is suppose to be doing and actually does well. Gee what a half-wit. TD01

      August 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
      • Dude

        If we hadn't spent all that money on Apollo, there would be no poverty and all the people on earth would ride magical unicorns on sky roads made of rainbows. . .

        If you ask the people who designed the cars that cut death rates in accidents by 80% and computers and high tech bridges and so on why they entered engineering, for years the answer was the moon landing. The 7 year olds watching Aldrin and Armstrong who grew up to change how the world operates.

        Today, for every American who graduates with an engineering degree, six Chinese students graduate with engineering degrees. We are losing the inspiration we once had.

        Want to fight poverty? Inspire the children today to go further. Mars is a bit far off, but putting an American team on an asteroid 1 million miles (about 4 times the distance to the moon) will do more to move people out of poverty than 1 million pounds of free government cheese.

        Spending money to fight poverty will only work if the people in poverty are inspired participants. Inspire the kids and provide them with educational opportunities.

        August 3, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • canocorn

      Since you feel this way, sell your computer, your house, don't ever go to a restaurant, etc., and donate all the money you are wasting until there is no more poverty in America.

      August 2, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • bspurloc

      saying Nasa is a waste of money is just pure ignorance. The Nasa budget is minute. but the ignorant whining is not.
      It is pointless to point out the accomplishments as the level ignorance displayed dictates they would go over your head

      August 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • yaron

      Money is never "wasted". It goes to pay for people's salaries, materials, services, everything. What does it mean to use it for poverty? Give money freely to the poor? We already do that anyway.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • n2video

      Yardley has it right. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it best: "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 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."

      August 3, 2012 at 3:19 am |
    • Tank

      Excuse me uninformed person. NASA's budget has been about less than 0.5% of our total budget for about 40 years now. Not even a full percentage goes to fund this stuff. Imagine what they could do with real money?

      August 3, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Art

      The space program is the only federal program that returns roughly $3 back to the economy for every $1 spent. Without NASA there would be no internet, cell phones, personal computers, most medical equipment would not exist, airplanes would not be as safe, and about 10,000 other modern things that make your life what it is. Other than that you're right.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Dan I

      NASA actually makes money, bringing in $1.25 for every $1.00 spent on average. It also takes up .5% of the federal budget (that's POINT five percent).

      Shouldn't we fund the one agency that actually MAKES money?

      August 3, 2012 at 11:30 am |
      • Joshua

        Should we not fun the agency that took us to the moon and created every piece of technology around you?

        August 4, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  52. Einstein

    When the sun was hotter ... Mars was once like earth..... Bet on it.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • bspurloc

      When the core of Mars was as molten as the Earths it had an atmosphere. 4+billion years is a LONG time for changes unseen to happen

      August 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
      • db

        Must have been casued by Martian Global warming. To many martians smoking pot!

        August 3, 2012 at 12:02 am |
      • n2video

        db, the results of a part of your little joke can actually be seen, not on Mars, but on Venus, and not due to Venusians smoking pot, but rather an over-abundance of carbon dioxide in its atmoshpere. Venus is an example of a runaway greenhouse effect, with atmospheric temperatures around 460 degrees Centigrade and with an atmospheric pressure around 90 times that of Earth.

        August 3, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • jkflipflop

      Actually, it wasn't. There's a little thing called "mass". Maybe you've heard of it?

      August 3, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      "When the sun was hotter ... Mars was once like earth..... Bet on it."

      Read a book, Einstein. The sun is the hottest it's been since reaching the main sequence, when it's luminosity was 70% of what it is now. Yet life evolved on Earth and Mars once had running water on its surface. Greenhouse gases, mayhaps???

      Sorry, Einstein. Bets are off.

      August 3, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • intothemoonbeam

      The sun is the hottest it's ever been Einstein. No I'm not talking about Global Warming. Stars like our sun gradually get hotter as they age. In a billion years the Earth will not be habitable. In a few more billion years the Sun will become a red giant and completely engulf the Earth.

      August 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
      • Bruno

        Imagine the housing market then.

        August 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  53. frank pinkney

    Perhaps instead of "with the world's largest supersonic parachute" you should say "with the solar system's largest supersonic parachute".

    August 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • lookbothweis


      August 2, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • allynom

      That's just one of many terrible word choice, grammatical, and structural problems in this writeup ("Curiosity will separate from the descent stage structure about 20 meters above the surface and continues 'gently toward the surface.'"; "Mars has no plate tectonics like Earth does," etc.). While I'm glad that a "LightYears" section exists on CNN, the quality of the writing and editing would embarrass a third grader.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:15 am |
      • Old Dude

        Ah, a grammar geek. Love you guys when I pay you to edit and spell check one of my novels that I create and sell a bunch of. Put something on paper that’s worth anything to anyone lately, besides a grade perhaps?

        August 4, 2012 at 2:16 am |


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