Incoming! Curiosity


The flight team continues to monitor the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft’s telemetry and track its trajectory.  There are no real-time spacecraft activities planned today.  Late tomorrow night, the spacecraft is scheduled to perform its fourth and smallest trajectory correction maneuver,  which will mark the beginning of MSL’s final approach to Mars.

The Mars Science Laboratory, the hardest mission ever attempted in planetary robotic exploration is about to prove its mettle with the landing of its Curiosity rover on the Red Planet. Live coverage begins at 11:30 p.m. Eastern on NASA TV.

Video uploaded by U Tube user 

Landing Site

The area where NASA’s Curiosity rover will land on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT) has a geological diversity that scientists are eager to investigate, as seen in this false-color map based on data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter.  The image was obtained by Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System.  It merges topographical data with thermal inertia data that record the ability of the surface to hold onto heat.

The yellow oval shows the elliptical landing target for Curiosity’s landing site.

An alluvial fan is visible around a crater to the northwest of the landing area.  A series of undulating lines traveling southeast from the crater indicates similar material moving down a slope.  The material, which appears bluish-green in this image, also forms a fan shape.

An area in red indicates a surface material that is more tightly cemented together than rocks around it and likely has a high concentration of minerals.  An attractive interpretation for this texture is that water could have been present there some time in the past.

Curiosity is expected to land within the large Gale Crater.  The rim of a smaller crater (about a half mile, or 1 kilometer, in diameter) inside of Gale is visible at the bottom right of the image.

video uploaded by U Tube user 

Landing Sky Show

On the same night Curiosity lands on Mars, a “Martian Triangle” will appear in sunset skies of Earth.  The first-magnitude apparition on August 5th gives space fans something to do while they wait for news from the Red Planet.

Curiosity

Video uploaded by U Tube user 

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