“Curiosity”, the biggest Mars rover yet (the size of a 1-ton car) successfully launched from Florida two days ago. Before it figures out if there really is life on the red planet, it first has to land, about 8.5 months from now.

Steps:

1. Descend into the thick Mars atmosphere with your aeroshell heat shield, guided by MEDLI and MARDI.

2. Once you enter the atmosphere (~78 miles altitude at ~5,800 m/sec velocity): Deploy parachute with attached rocket backpack! Drop the heat shield.

3. Extend and fire eight throttleable retrorockets for the power descent after dropping the parachute.

4. The (never before used) sky crane will lower you down gently onto the earth.

5. Pop wheels and suspension into place, say goodbye to descent, and welcome to Mars.

Good luck Curiosity!

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