Curiosity lands on Mars , the control center of NASA is a real hive of activity and last minute preparations.The important thing at this time is to ensure that the final approach to Mars mission is carried out within the parameters provided. Any deviation, however small, could prove fatal for a journey of nine months and more than 500 million km . For example, even the slightest variation in the angle of entry into the atmosphere could cause the rover landing site far behind schedule, or in an area too rocky and which was seriously damaged.
The area selected for the landing leaves no room for error. This is an ancient crater called Gale, in whose center stands a rocky hill of great proportions. Curiosity will land right at the foot of this hill, whose slopes appear to be alluvial and where orbiting spacecraft have detected clay sands, which are only formed in the presence of water. And if there was water, there could have been life .
Much has already spoken of the ” seven minutes of terror “will last as long as the final maneuver of landing Curiosity, from its entry into the atmosphere until it touches the ground. In that short time the ship will have to decelerate from more than 21,000 km / h to zero. To do this, change configuration up to six times and made a string of maneuvers that have never been tested. During those interminable minutes the control center will not know because of the time it takes for radio signals reach Earth, if all went as planned or if the Curiosity, as are 60% of the missions that have tried to land on Mars, is lost forever. Indeed, only seven of the seventeen ships that have tried have achieved their goal. A statistic that optimism.
The most ambitious mission
But if the Curiosity overcomes the ordeal of landing, start the most ambitious mission of all how many were sent to Mars . Ten scientific instruments, a ton of weight in total and the size of a small car. The Curiosity is three times larger than its two predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity.
As for his mission, and although the background is always the search for life, past or will not this time one of the main objectives of this mission.
The Curiosity is designed to determine the habitability of Mars, that is, whether humans can ever hope to live there, and not to seek traces of any living or fossil organism. For this, the rover is equipped with meteorological sensors and measured radiation, hour by hour, the intensity of cosmic rays and atmospheric phenomena like sandstorms.
Over the next two years, more sophisticated rover ever sent to another world tour the Gale crater at a maximum speed of 90 meters per hour . If all goes as planned, the Earth Curiosity send more data than all previous missions together and open a real “revolution” in our knowledge of Mars. A planet that will one day become the second cradle of humanity