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NASA’s Curiosity Rover lands on Mars Sunday night

August 2, 2012

You’d have to have been under a rock to no know that NASA’s latest and greatest Mars rover is about to land on the Red Planet. It’s been all over the news lately… but here are a few more deets that you may not know, including when and how to watch the coverage.

As usual, Universe Today is on top of the coverage, and this infographic was particularly interesting. They will also be teaming up with Google, CosmoQuest, and the SETI Institute to do a live webcast via Google+ to cover the event. Among the cast of hosts is one of my favorite fellow science enthusiasts/skeptics Dr. Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy. That begins at 10pm central time. The actual landing is scheduled for 12:31am central time. For more on the webcast check out the post on Universe Today.

Some random cool facts:

  • This is the most complex landing procedure ever carried out by a NASA interplanetary mission.
  • The supersonic parachute that slows the lander during the descent phase is a whopping 51 feet in diameter.
  • The rover itself is about the size of a Mini Cooper.
  • The rover weighs 1,982 pounds (on earth… on Mars it weighs about 747 pounds)
  • The rover is powered by a small nuclear reactor.
  • Curiosity will land inside Gale Crater, near the base of Mount Sharp, which has layers of exposed minerals that the rover will sample and study.
  • The total cost of the mission is $2.5 billion.
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