A month from now, the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) rover is set to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet and begin its mission to learn more about the possible existence of life – past or present. Curiosity will attempt to touch down using a complex and unusual landing sequence unlike any other used for previous Mars rovers … here’s how the plan will unfold.
The entire process will be executed completely autonomously, managed not by human intervention.
The technology behind the landing is an interplay of hardware and software. On the software side, the computer algorithms that guide each part of the craft can be tested from Earth, simulations can be run, and new software updates can be installed – the final stable version was uploaded in the last few days of May.
Testing the hardware was not nearly as easy, since the right conditions can’t be recreated on Earth…
By Dario Borghino, July 5, 2012