back to article NASA spills last details of Mars space truck trip

NASA Mars Science Laboratory is buttoned up into its fairing atop its Atlas booster, ready for liftoff on November 25 with touchdown scheduled for August of next year – a reentry and landing that will have NASA space boffins biting their nails. "Any entry, descent, and landing on Mars is a place where you take pause and bite …


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  1. Kharkov

    Let's hope this isn't the end...

    The probe's been designed (and the design works been paid for), built (and the buildings been paid for), and is ready to go (the launch may or not have been paid for - not sure. I'd say it probably has been paid for).

    Enter OMB, stage right. Due to the Senate mandating SLS without actually allocating extra money for it, the funds have to come from the existing NASA budget.

    Which is where OMB comes in. In an effort to keep NASA from breaking its budget, they'd like to scrap/limit, reduce its various upcoming probes/observation missions, thus breaking many of NASA's prior commitments to ESA, thus killing reasonably cheap Mars exploration for a decade, thus firing/scattering the brains behind the programs. 10 years from now, that pool of talent will have to be rebuilt, another series of probes designed, built and launched.

    And all so a horribly expensive rocket (the first of which will cost 100 times more than the commerical alternative) that's never going to fly can get first place at the pork barrel...

    1. Muhammad Imran/mi1400
      Thumb Up

      Clean spirits/opportunity's solar panels.

      Saving costs ..good ... how about use its instruments to clean spirits/opportunity's solar panels if their paths happens to intercept no matter when or divert if feasable since nuclear fuel could facilitate out of scope journies. also in animation videos the hovering-unit (sky crane) which finally lowers MSL on ground, can also carry new batteries for prev robots and MSL's arm may slide new batteries into their bays. though i failed google how far this MSL will land from any of prev bots current loc but still... Lastly the disgraced ESA motionless Beagle2, all it needs is just little drag from shadow of a hill and into sunlight.

  2. Kevin 6

    Is it me or does the picture look like something from starcraft?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know where I'm going to be in August.

    Helps to have a friend at JPL! Ought to be fun.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That looks so over complicated it is untrue.

    Still, pretty bold, and if it works they have the basis for a lander I guess. Good luck to them.

    1. James Hughes 1


      Or the only way of doing it, and therefor exactly as complicated as it needs to be.

  5. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Why can I just foresee

    Either a perfect landing but then the cables failing to detach and the rover ending up dragging the skycrane about, or a perfect landing and the rover then getting pancaked by the crane coming down on top of it?

    1. No, I will not fix your computer


      Imagine there is life on Mars (for example a feline based lifeform) and the rover landed on it......

      (you'll have to think about this a bit)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sci-fi ftw

    Maybe I'm not going to live to see a man (or woman) on Mars, but dammit we are sending some fine sci-fi robots. Thats 'artists impression' of the landing via skycrane looks like something from a good movie.

    And on friday too. Nice work!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nuclear power?

    could you get us more details, this is definitely not a regular nuclear reactor, how will the electricity be generated? it has to be a very compact design, congrats.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      @loan re: nuclear power...

      According to the launch nuclear safety PDF from nasa's web site ( it's a radioisotope thermoelectric generator similar to what was used on the voyager probes. It's old tech updated for modern day, and safe as houses.

    2. Richard Scratcher

      Nucular Power

      From Wiki:

      "Curiosity will be powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), as used by the successful Mars landers Viking 1 and Viking 2 in 1976."

  8. Anakin
    Paris Hilton

    LOHAN rocket ramp?

    Instead of a propulsive lander. Make a propulsive rocket ramp.

    Put the rocket on top of the propulsion system

    At the right altitude the ramp release the ballons and stay steady in the air just like the mars lander.

    When the ballons are outta way the rocket that has been standing on top of the ramp take of.

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