Mars landing: ‘7 minutes of terror’


Landing on Mars is no easy task.

Of all the spacecraft sent by NASA to the red planet, only one in three did so successfully.

And yet, NASA needs its newest rover, the $2.5 billion Mars Science Lander, to land and execute its mission flawlessly tonight. The agency’s budget and the future of the Mars program are on the line.

That has scientists like Ken Herkenhoff worried.

The astronomer worked with the previous rovers from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Branch in Flagstaff. He also helped design the current rover Curiosity and will be leaving for California to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the next several months.