Early on Monday morning (late Sunday evening from the US) NASA’s latest Mars rover will touchdown on the Red Planet, signalling a new era in planetary exploration. The rover in question, Curiosity, is reportedly in fine health as it approaches its destination, with all systems operating as expected and on a consistent and stable course.
Traveling at about 8,000 mph (3,576 meters per second), it will gradually increase in speed to about 13,200 mph (5,900 meters per second) by the time it reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere.
Curiosity will carry out a long-term robotic exploration of Mars, assessing whether it ever saw an environment able to support microbial lifeforms.
This car-sized machine will analyse samples taken from the soil and drilled from rocks using its onboard laboratory, hoping to detect the chemical building blocks of life (like forms of carbon) as may have existed in Martian history.
This latest mobile Martian science lab from the Mars Science Laboratory is the largest and most advanced rover NASA have ever sent to Mars. Nothing is guarenteed though, and NASA have stressed that less than a third of all landings on the Martian surface have been successful, so it’s going to be a nervous ride.
NASA TV will be covering the build up to descent, touchdown, deployment and beyond and you can watch it below, or click on the link at the bottom of this page to go direct to the NASA TV website!
Current schedule sees programmes start at 03:31 UTC (04:31 BST) on Monday 6th August with the landing due at 05:31 UTC (06:31 BST). If anything changes we’ll update this post with most recent info below.
This is an incredibly exciting time in space exploration, and definitely worth tuning in to see Curiosity on Mars!
To watch NASA TV on the NASA website here
Watch Curiosity’s Landing!
Aug 5, 2012 22:31 Pacific
Aug 6, 2012 01:31 Eastern
Aug 6, 2012 05:31 Universal
(build up on NASA TV begins 2 hours before the landing times noted above)