What may seem like just a fuzzy image is a moment of sheer joy for the dreamers and planners of Curiosity’s mission to Mars as the world’s strongest parachute deploys in preparation for what all hoped would be – and was – a successful landing.
The real beauty of this shot was the perfection of its timing, as investigation scientist Sarah Milkovich explained:
“If HiRISE [High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment] took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape…When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain.”
As explained in the video below, the meticulous planning that went into the “seven minutes of terror” — the time it took for the the craft to travel through Mars’ atmosphere — was mind-boggling, and we here on Earth had no idea what it’s fate would be for a nail-biting fourteen minutes.
So far, though, this story has a happy ending.
A huge day for NASA.Author on Google+