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August 5, 2012

Watch Live: Mars Curiosity Rover Lands on the Red Planet at 1:31 AM ET Sunday Night/Monday Morning

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The Mars Curiosity rover, aka Mars Science Laboratory, is set to land on Mars Monday morning at 1:31 AM ET.

That’s 10:31 PM PT or 0531 ZULU. Here’s a handy Time Calculator to help you figure out what time that is in your part of the world.

Above is a live feed of NASA TV, which will be broadcasting pre-game footage and interviews all day leading up to the landing.

A few weeks ago we wrote about the “7 minutes of terror” and how the Mars Curiosity landing will progress:

When the compact car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, aka the Curiosity rover, approaches Mars on August 5, it will be so far away from Earth that radio transmissions to and from Mission Control will take 14 minutes each way, making real-time control from the ground impossible.

Instead, computers will orchestrate the most complex landing maneuver ever attempted on another planet with the biggest Mars rover ever built. The spacecraft will transform into six different configurations over the course of seven minutes as it enters the Martian atmosphere. Any single failure during any of those transformations will mean curtains for Curiosity.

And that 14 minute transmission delay means Curiosity will have been on the surface of Mars — intact or otherwise — for at least 7 minutes by the time engineers find out what’s going on — hence, the “7 minutes of terror.”

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  • 15 seconds of anticipation can sometimes feel like hours. Imagine 7 minutes. Id kill myself if I was a NASA engineer and had any doubts about my work. I hope they’re confident.

    • seedanrun

      Yeah– waiting to see if the work of the last decade of your life just crashed into a worthless heap.
      It must be like being the coach of an Olympic athlete — except they break your legs student if he dosen’t get at least a bronze to make sure you start over from scratch.