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Posts Tagged ‘Curiosity’

I’m usually quite on top of events in space exploration; I followed the Spirit and Opportunity landings with verve, and was obsessed with the daily feeds that came back from Cassini. Somehow, this one just slipped under my radar, but thankfully, someone over at Xbox decided it would be cool to make a big deal out of it, and Friday, two days before the landing of the new Curiosity rover, I got wind of the whole thing.

Then I saw the video (below) that described the “7 minutes of terror” of landing, and saw the Rube Goldberg style method of getting this rover from orbit to the surface. My first reaction—the reaction of many and, reportedly, the reaction of some of the scientists on the team—was “That’s crazy!” Orbit, entry, heat shield, parachute, pop the shield, dump the contents, balance on rockets, and then a skycrane to lower the rover to the surface? Could the possibly have put in more moving parts? Why didn’t they just pack it in balloon-wrap and drop it like they did before? Why was this devilishly hard collection of contraptions necessary?

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