This Sunday, Jet Propulsion Laboratories in La Canada-Flintridge will work to land Mars Rover “Curiosity,” which is programmed to slow down from 13,000 miles an hour to zero in just seven minutes — a time period that NASA has dubbed the “7 minutes of terror.” What’s more, there is a 14-minute communication lag between Earth and the rover so by the time word has reached Earth that Curiosity has entered the atmosphere, it will have already reached the red planet’s surface. Once the one-ton rover completes its complicated landing, the complex laboratory will work to see whether the planet was ever habitable. NASA, which has spent $2.5 billion on the mission, is planning social media events for the launch.
On today’s To the Point, Warren talks to a group of experts about the expedition’s complexities from the landing to the exploration. The panel includes Ashwin Vasavada and Ryan Anderson from the Curiosity mission, Harvard’s Jonathan McDowell, and the Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor and blogger at the Planetary Society.