VIDEO: NASA Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of Mars Curiosity Launch From Cape Canaveral
By NASA // November 26, 2016
ABOVE VIDEO: November 26, 2016, is the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), also known as Curiosity.
(NASA) – November 26, 2016, is the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), also known as Curiosity.
A picture perfect launch atop an Atlas V-541 rocket got MSL’s 566 million kilometer journey to the red planet underway. But unlike some missions, MSL’s launch was not the most action packed part of its trip.
Curiosity arrived at Mars eight months later and so began one of the most complex entry, descent, and landing sequences in history.
Curiosity’s descent started in a traditional fashion with heat-shield aerobraking followed by descent under parachute.
ABOVE VIDEO: NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun the journey to Mars after its Atlas V rocket launched successfully from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 26.
In the thin Martian atmosphere, though, the usual combination of parachutes and air bags were not enough to slow the 900 kilogram (2,000 lb) rover to a safe stop. A retro rocket system was needed and one was designed that allowed Curiosity to be set down on her wheels – ready to go to work.
So, 20 meters above the surface the Curiosity rover was lowered via sky crane to touchdown at less than 3 kph.