The Many Ways Mars Rover Curiosity Might Phone Home

Sunday, August 5, 2012 - 10:30 in Astronomy & Space

Mars Science Lab Approaching This artist's concept shows the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars. In this illustration, the Curiosity rover is safely tucked inside the spacecraft's aeroshell. The mission's approach phase begins 45 minutes before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere, according to NASA. For navigation purposes, the atmospheric entry point is 2,188 miles above the center of the planet. This illustration depicts a scene after the spacecraft's cruise stage has been jettisoned, which will occur 10 minutes before atmospheric entry. NASA/JPL-CaltechCall us, maybe PASADENA, Calif. -- It's finally landing day -- or so everyone here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory hopes. After eight months of travel, the Mars rover Curiosity is just hours from phoning home to announce its arrival, scheduled for 1:31 a.m. Monday on the East Coast and 10:31 p.m. Sunday here in California. It might not call right away, however -- or at least we may...

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