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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Will NASA's flagship mission to Mars fly next year? The space agency could decide as early as Friday whether to cancel, delay or proceed with plans to launch a nuclear-powered, SUV-size rover to the red planet.
Some scientists outside the Mars research community said canceling the project does not make sense since so much money has already been invested.
Mars Science Laboratory will be the first planetary mission to use precision landing techniques,...
There is no air bag landing this trip. MSL is too massive. The rover will be tenderly deposited onto Mars
via a tether reeled out from a Skycrane system, a rocket-powered contraption that hovers above the landing site.
Originally posted by GrayFox
... The crane landing method of the craft confuses me though. ...
After the parachute has significantly slowed the vehicle and the heatshield (that has protected the rover during entry) separates, the descent stage will separate from the backshell. Using four steerable engines, the descent stage will slow the nested rover down even further to eliminate the effects of any horizontal winds. When the vehicle has been slowed to nearly zero velocity, the rover will be released from the descent stage. A bridle and "umbilical cord" will lower the rover to the ground. During the lowering, the rover's front mobility system will be deployed so that it is essentially ready to rove upon landing. When the on-board computer senses that touchdown is successful, it will cut the bridle. The descent stage then pitches away from the rover and powers away at full throttle to a crash-landing far from Mars Science Laboratory.
Each foot-wide, 11-pound ball can roll up to 62 miles, snap photos at any angle, and take soil samples, drawing its power from the solar panels on its shell. Unlike wheeled rovers, the rounded scouts have fewer motors to repair, never flip over, and are easier to seal from dust. Plus, they rarely get stuck.
Originally posted by ColoradoJens
I wonder if it will just spin when it snows?