NASA: Our Mars Rover Is About To Experience '7 Minutes Of Terror'

Mars Curiosity Rover 7 Minutes of Terror

Photo: NASA

A nine month journey from Earth to Mars will end in what NASA describes as “seven minutes of terror.“Launched on November 26, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Mars rover Curiosity will enter the Martian atmosphere at 1:06 AM EDT Monday, August 6.

However, the seven minute long entry, descent, and landing involves decelerating from 13,000 MPH to zero as things heat up to 1,600 degrees.

NASA engineers recently gave a graphic step-by-step simulation of what the experience will be like.

It takes 14 minutes for a signal from the spacecraft to reach Earth from Mars

So the whole 7 minute entry, descent and landing will be fully automated

During those 7 minutes, the rover will decelerate from 13,000 MPH to zero

And things will heat up to 1,600 degrees

However, Mars' atmosphere is too thin to really slow the rover down

The parachute weighs 100lbs but can withstand 65,000 pounds of force

The parachute will slow the rover to 200 MPH, which isn't slow enough. So, they cut it off

And then things get complicated

Immediately, rockets fire in the separated rover

Things are about to get a lot more complicated

If the rocket engines get to close to the surface, they will create a massive dust cloud that will damage the rover's instruments

20 meters above the Martian surface, the rover is lowered on a tether that's 21 feet long

Still, the descent stage is on a collision course with the rover

So the bridal is cut off and the descent stage is fired off to another part of Mars

Watch the whole simulation here

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