If you are not a space geek, you may not know about the curiosity Mars Rover.
Now Mars is not an easy place to land. It has wind and weather that can blow things down. It has thinner atmosphere, so that parachutes don’t work as well. It’s a long way away so that everything you send has to sit in the cold of space for a couple of years before being used.
In fact, if you look at our success at landing things successfully on Mars, it’s not that great, and some of the mistakes have been incredibly bad. Like the time they forgot to program the probe to look back at Earth and report so It turned away and that was all we heard of it. Or the time they confused English and Metric units and built the engine too small so it couldn’t slow down fast enough and it crashed.
Well, the curiosity lander had the most complicated landing sequence that I have ever seen.
1. Separate from the space craft
2. Enter the atmosphere
3. Use a parachute to slow down
4. Eject the heat shield
5. Drop the lander and let it fly down on retrorockets
6. Have the wheeled rover lowered down below the rockets on cables
7. Touch the rover to the ground and separate the cables
8. Have the retro rocket part fly away and crash somewhere
I may have gotten some of it wrong, because it was insanely complex. Well I just watched the landing live and it touched down! Yeah! I can’t believe all that stuff really worked!
Sometimes wild things do succeed!
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