Seven Minutes to Destination Mars
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On August 5, 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover will have to go from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of Mars in just seven minutes.
Team members describe the challenges to landing on the Red Planet.

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Curiosity Rover was launched by NASA on November 26, 2011.   It is about five times larger than the Spirit or Opportunity Mars exploration rovers, and carries over ten times the mass of scientific instruments.
The landing sequence requires six vehicle configurations, 76 rockets and the largest supersonic parachute ever built:
1. The rockets of the aeroshell protective armor fire to steer the capsule towards the desired angle.
2. A long parachute opens to slow down the Mars Science Laboratory as it zooms down.
3. The heat shield ejects, leaving the rover exposed inside the aeroshell, attached to the "floating crane" mechanism.
4. The "floating crane's" rockets fire up, further slowing the descent.
5. The top part of the aeroshell detaches completely, leaving the "sky crane" alone holding the rover.
6. A few hundred meters above the terrain, the floating "sky crane" starts lowering the rover down until it touches down.
7. The sky crane detaches from the rover to crash far from the landing site.

Here is a comparison of size between the previous rovers and the new Curiosity Rover:
3 Rovers Size Comparison
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