Saturday, August 18, 2012

NASA's Curiosity rover

NASA's Curiosity rover has transmitted its first color photo and a low-resolution video showing the last two-and-a-half minutes of its dramatic dive through the Martian atmosphere, giving a sneak peek of a spacecraft landing on another world.
Curiosity is the heaviest piece of machinery NASA has landed on Mars.
The roving laboratory, the size of a compact car, landed right on target after an eight
-month, 566-million-kilometre journey. It parked its six wheels about 6 kilometres from its ultimate science destination Mount Sharp, rising from the floor of Gale Crater near the equator.
Extraordinary efforts were needed for the landing because the rover weighs one ton, and the thin Martian atmosphere offers little friction to slow down a spacecraft. Curiosity had to go from 21,000 kilometres per hour to zero in seven minutes, unfurling a parachute, then firing rockets to brake. In a Hollywood-style finish, cables delicately lowered it to the ground at 3 kilometres per hour

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