Dramatic Video Shows How New Mars Rover Will Land Using a Sky Crane


Rebecca Boyle
Popsci
April 8, 2011

When parachutes and airbags won’t do the trick, you’ve got to land like a hovercraft, lowering precious cargo from a flying crane.

Check out this amazing new animation of NASA’s new Mars rover, the car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, on its harrowing journey to the red planet.

The rover, also called Curiosity, is too big to land bouncing along airbags a la its predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity. And Mars doesn’t have enough atmosphere for a parachute to slow it sufficiently. So engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory came up with this hybrid approach, involving a rocket-slowed descent and a “sky crane.”

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