Why Is It So Hard to Land On Mars?

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 14:03 in Astronomy & Space

Mars, the Unfriendly Planet NASA/JPLAs Mars rover Curiosity approaches its terrifying landing, we have to face the fact that ‘Mars wins most of the time' Mars is not a friendly place. It's freezing, windy, barren, and quiet except for howling dust storms that can threaten hopeful visitors. The planet is kind of a jerk, really, presenting vindictive obstacles to thwart the robotic explorers sent toward it for the past 47 years. And Mars usually wins. In the decades since humans started sending spacecraft to Mars, the Red Planet has outscored us handily; humans have only about a .411 batting average overall -- not great for missions that cost billions of dollars and countless time to build. Seventeen landers have been sent, and just seven made it to the surface safely, each of them with varying degrees of success. NASA is attempting the most complicated mission ever with its new Mars...

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