Where to Watch: Iowa to Host Mars Rover Viewing Party
As NASA's Mars Curiosity nears its final destination, Earthlings prepare to watch. The Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines has workshops planned to explain the mission to Mars.
The Mars rover Curiosity is on course to land in Iowa Saturday.
But don't worry, the car-sized robot hasn't wandered 152 million miles off its trajectory. NASA has partnered with the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines to educate families about its most ambitious Mars mission yet. The rover is schedule to land on Mars Monday, Aug. 6.
The Science Center's website says: "Through the years, NASA engineers have designed a variety of methods to land a rover safely on the Red Planet. Some have been successful… some have not. Join us to learn about the methods NASA has used to ensure a safe Martian landing. Then, create a landing device to help your “rover” hit its target and survive the landing."
The center's workshop is free with admission to Facing Mars or $5 per family with general admission to SCI. Space is limited. Send an email to email@example.com to reserve a spot.
Curiosity, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, has a pretty exciting time ahead of it. It's detailed in NASA's aptly named video called "7 Minutes of Terror."
The complex spacecraft encapsulating the rover must deal with the 16,000 degrees of heat generated by entering the planet's atmosphere at 13,000 mph. A parachute will slow it down.
It will all happen in seven minutes -- on autopilot.
Because of the time delay caused by Mars' current distance of more than 150 million miles, scientists and viewers around the world won't know if the landing has been a success or failure for another seven minutes.
Talk about a nail-biter.
The real work doesn't begin until Curiosity is on the ground. The rover, which is the size of a SUV, will search for signs of microscopic life in the Martian soil. And if the most optimistic hopes for the mission come true, this machine could finally answer one of the greatest questions ever asked.
Are we alone?