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Old 08-04-2012, 10:14 PM   #54
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Here we go. Good luck NASA.

Last-minute guide to the Mars landing - Cosmic Log
The descent of NASA's Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars is must-see TV on Sunday night, but for the uninitiated, all the geekspeak, apps and animations can be disorienting. Now you can consider yourself initiated: Here's a rundown of the basics for the $2.5 million mission, plus lots of goodies you can sample online.

Mars Curiosity in 150 words
Eight months after its launch last November, the Mars Science Laboratory will plunge through Mars' atmosphere and deliver the Curiosity rover to the bottom of Gale Crater, for a two-year mission aimed at documenting billions of years' worth of the geological record. Its prime objective is to study the layers of rock on a 3-mile-high mountain inside the crater, known as Aeolis Mons or Mount Sharp.

Curiosity’s 10 instruments can analyze the chemistry of Mars' rocks, soil and atmosphere in unprecedented detail. It has a drill, a robotic arm with a microscope, a miniaturized laboratory and even a rock-blasting laser. Curiosity isn't designed to detect life directly, but it can identify chemicals hinting at how habitable Mars was in ancient times.

Because the nuclear-powered rover weighs a ton, it has to be lowered to the surface on cables during a set of maneuvers known as the "Seven Minutes of Terror."

Where and when to watch
NASA TV will provide live commentary on the countdown to landing beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET Sunday. We're due to receive the first signals relayed from Curiosity on the surface at 1:31 a.m. ET Sunday.
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