Kjell E’s Cool Images – nr 50

Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, has landed….

 

The latest and biggest, 1 ton, plutonium powered mars lander and rover, was launched NOV 26, 2011.

After a journey of 566 million km, it met Mars’ atmosphere at 20,921 km / hr, or 17 times the speed of sound.

It landed on AUG 6, with a neck breaking, but perfect 7 minute descent and landing, made necessary because of the size and weight of this lander.

Curiosity is designed to spend the next two years exploring “Gale Crater” and an unusual 5 km-high mountain consisting of what appears to be sediments rising from the crater’s floor.

Its primary mission is to look for evidence that Mars — the planet most similar to Earth — may have once hosted the basic building blocks necessary for microbial life to evolve.
A NASA animation shows the different phases of the amazing landing, which by the way, involved 79 pyrotechnic detonations to release exterior ballast weights, open the parachute, separate the heat shield, detach the craft’s back shell, jettison the parachute and other functions.  WOW !!!!  :

Parachute successfully deployed, seen from orbit

 

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