Curiosity Just Days Away From Mars

More than eight months ago, on November 26, 2011, NASA launched its newest rover named Curiosity from Florida's Cape Canaveral, headed to the planet Mars. Now, after traveling hundreds of millions of kilometers, the landing is scheduled to take place at 1:31 am Eastern Time on Monday, August 6 (10:31 pm August 5, Pacific Time). The capsule containing the rover will experience "seven minutes of terror", decelerating through the Martian atmosphere, as a series of entry events quickly take place, ending with a rocket-powered sky crane lowering the rover gently to the surface. Curiosity is a beast of a rover, weighing one ton, measuring ten feet long by seven feet tall (at the top of the mast), and powered by a plutonium-238 fueled electrical generator. The rover carries ten instruments, including several high-resolution cameras, and a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy instrument called ChemCam that can vaporize tiny amounts of minerals and analyze their components. If all goes according to plan, Curiosity is scheduled for a stay on Mars of about 668 Martian sols, or nearly two Earth years, starting in Gale crater. Researchers hope to use the tools on Curiosity to study whether the area in Gale crater has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life existed. (Most of these photos were featured in a November, 2011 entry, when Curiosity was launched).

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.
Jump to Comments

Most Recent

  • China Daily/Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 1/24-1/30

    This week we have images of lemurs in China, a Dalek in a pool in the UK, the blizzard that hit the U.S. east coast, the liberation of Kobani in Syria, a rare megamouth shark, a wine cork portrait of the King and Queen of Spain, a Zanzibari fisherman, and much more.

  • Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

    Returning Syrian Kurds Find Recaptured Kobani in Ruins

    Late last year, after months of assault by ISIS militants, many had given up the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani as lost. The fight continued through the winter, until monitors and spokesmen for the the Kurdish People's Protection Unit announced earlier this week that ISIS forces had been driven from Kobani.

  • Maj. James Dalglish/AP

    On This Day: An Air Battle Over Belgium in 1945

    Seventy years ago, on January 27, 1945, a German pilot was captured on film after hastily exiting his damaged plane, hurtling through the air, legs outstretched, high above the frigid landscape of Belgium.

  • Kacper Pempel/Reuters

    Remembering Auschwitz: 70 Years After Liberation

    ​Tuesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year marks the passage of 70 years since the January 27, 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland by Soviet soldiers.

Join the Discussion