Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Seven minutes of Terror

'Minutes of terror' has nothing to do with the time before aftaar .... those moments of unusual time dilation and .. well terror, Its about a recent event that took place .. NASA's curiosity rover successfully landed on our neighbor planet Mars .... marking a milestone, another achievement made by mankind which will be a source of inspiration and awe for generations to come.

Okay so now a brief overview of the mission .. NASA's mission mars is basically about sending a surveillance rover to mars to check whether the planet was ever capable of microbial life.Curiosity is loaded with equipment to allow analysis of air, rock and soil samples.

Things have been sent to Mars before meh! so why the terror .. well one this time the vehicle is pretty big and highly equipped as compare to its predecessors and two landing of the rover on Martian soil is the biggest and most complex task of all the time lag in communication between the space shuttle and the Control center is approximately seven minutes (takes a total of 14 minutes for the radio waves to communicate b/w the Earth and Mars)... so when we get the signal from the shuttle saying it has entered Martian atmosphere .. seven minutes have already passed and considering the speed its traveling in its probably quite deep into the atmosphere. The estimated descend time is seven minutes ... this is to be done totally autonomously without any communication from earth , the landing process is something like this

  • The Martian Space Laboratory (MSL) .. decelerates at a humongous rate AND maintains attitude correction (direction control).... all this while facing enormous drag and aerodynamic heating
  • When the desired angle (for landing) is achieved the  parachute is deployed .. which further decelerates the MSL 
  • Now the capsule opens up (heat shield/parachute with cowling thrown away) a special descend vehicle (sky crane) equipped with eight rocket boosters roars to life .. the rover is lowered like a crane lowering stuff only this one's in air lol .. HOLY MOTHER Of ... i know !!! this part gives me the hardons lol
  • The rover touches the Martian land making history .. yyyeeeaayy
but thats not all ...... you wouldn't want the SkyCrane to crush your precious rover now would you ?! 
To prevent that the boosters push the shuttle away (thrust vectoring) while its in air ... making sure it never lands anywhere near the rover.

NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface

So there you go .. the seven minutes of cold-sweating nail-biting hair-pulling (lol) are over .. your curiosity has safely made its way to Martian land and is now ready to kill some Alien cats lol

Well lets assume its alien .. couldn't find a better picture

p.s. heres a link to NASA's video of the curiosity landing .. for those who are interested

Stay blessed :D

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