Mars: Five Minutes of Funk (Almost)



NASA previously launched the Curiosity Rover to help further explore the terrain of Mars. It's scheduled to land on August 5th and will begin "a two-year study of whether the landing vicinity ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life."

One of the most important parts is the actual landing sequence when Curiosity will approach from space, enter the Martian atmosphere, descend toward the desired target, and land successfully. This is known as "Seven Minutes of Terror", and is the most painful time for the engineers involved as well as space geeks such as myself.  There are plenty of redundant systems on any spacecraft in case there is an electronic failure, but just about everything has to go correct. In honor of "Seven Minutes of Terror", I present "Five Minutes of Funk"


This post on gives a nice summary on the different phases of this sequence, known as EDL (Entry, Descent, Landing). Discovery also has a nice profile, and mentions the following:

Now think about this: the rover weighs — get this — 890 kilograms, nearly a ton. The Mars air is thick enough that engineers have to deal with it, but too thin to bring Curiosity all the way to the surface safely. So they need a heat shield to slow it initially, a parachute to brake even more, and then rocket motors to drop it the rest of the way.

 Check out the video below for more details!