This is a very complicated and strange landing sequence. It is, of course, dictated by the environment and size of the craft, but it is still fantastic. The only way to plan this out is simulation. That in itself is a big process. The delay in communications caused by the great distances in space has always made commanding interplanetary craft complex. You don't command it like a RPV. In effect, you send up a program that handles the maneuver, and hope it works. Here's hoping this one works on Mars.
There will no doubt be a ton of nail biting over this landing. It is so complex and in some ways, appears so convoluted, but I suppose that is what's necessary for this particular exploration. The whole notion that they are dark for seven minutes before knowing if the mission was a success or not is pretty mind boggling.
This is gong to be fun to watch, once the rover is safely down. This lading sounds quite a bit different from the rover landing in the late 1990s, when the rover was enclosed in a big ball that bounced on the surface and then opened once it came to a rest.
Wow, Beth – thanks for that article. What a difficult scenario to resolve! Two lines sum it up:
,,,,, seven minutes to travel from atmosphere to surface, but 14 minutes for a signal ,,,,,
,,,,,, By the time we get a signal back, it will have either crashed or successfully landed ,,,,,
Talk about the Kobayashi Maru!! Accordingly, the entire sequence has to perform autonomously, perfectly, and without any correctional interventions. What a fantastic challenge; I'll be watching Space.Com and other sites on August 5th for news on this!
Beth Stackpole: It does seem like a lot of things must go right. The most confusing thing to me(I understand why) is the crane. I just can't wait to see it on tv. Wish they had the swamp people camera crew there to film it, that'd be awesome!...lol
Not to go off subject, but if any cameramen are out there that knows how those swamp guys get those shots I would sure like to know. I can figure out most of them, but some just leave me thinking...how the heck did they do that?! It might be a strange show, but unbelievable camera work.
The crane is what they came up with to lower the rover on to the surface after vastly decelerating it with rockets. Apparently, if the rockets get too close to the surface, they kick up a dust storm that would ruin the equipment and rover itself, so they required a more streamlined and less intrusive way to lower the rover to Mars surface.
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