The moment is almost here. In just a couple days, NASA’s new Mars rover, Curiosity, will begin its descent to the Martian surface and hopefully start beaming back amazing images and data.
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.
But there are still plenty of ways to catch the action online and feel like you’re getting a front-row seat for NASA’s next big mission.