Amy Willis
August 3, 2012

photoWikipedia: Artist’s conception of rover on Mars

A probe the size of a small car will hurtle through the Martian atmosphere at 13,000mph early on Monday morning using engineering which, if successful, could lay the path for the first manned Mars landing.

Using a giant £1.67 billion heat shield, the world’s biggest supersonic parachute and eight rocket thrusters, scientists hope Curiosity, a super robot kitted out with 17 cameras and dozens of sampling instruments, will be the test of technological prowess needed to prove an astronaut could eventually descend on the Red Planet in the future.

“If we had the motive, if it was important enough I would say within 10 years we could be there,” Adam Steltzner, the lead mechanical engineer for the entry, told The Daily Telegraph.

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