A lot is riding on the 1-ton, $2.5-billion Curiosity, which will drill and poke the Martian soil to study the planet’s geologic history and search for signs of habitability. The flagship rover mission is scheduled to land on Mars just after 10:30 p.m. Pacific (1:30 a.m. Eastern) on Aug. 5.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to watch the probe actually plunge into the Martian atmosphere and undertake the carefully orchestrated sequence of landing events known as the “Seven Minutes of Terror.” Even the radio waves that indicate the rover’s position have to obey the laws of physics and recognize the 14-minute communications delay between Earth and Mars.
The first place to check out will be here, at Wired Science, where we will be providing two live feeds from JPL, the rover’s headquarters, via NASA TV. The first feed will feature commentary from scientists and engineers who work on Curiosity and will play Aug. 5 from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Pacific (11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern) and then again from 12:30 to 1:30 a.m. Pacific (3:30 to 4:30 Eastern) on Aug. 6. For those looking for to get the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes details, the second feed will carry only audio from mission controllers regarding Curiosity’s progress and will begin on Aug. 5 at 8:30 p.m. Pacific (11:30 Eastern). If all goes well, NASA has stated that they might be able to share the first image from the ground during these feeds, likely a shot of the rover’s wheel indicating that everything’s in working order.