Well, it turns out those crazy folks at NASA succeeded in getting its latest rover Curiosity to the red planet despite what has been described in some circles as a ridiculously awesome landing protocol.
According to a TIME article on the landing:
The touchdown required an extraordinary sequence of events designed to slow the incoming spacecraft from a blistering 13,000 m.p.h. to 2 m.p.h. in just seven minutes. Among the new tools in play: a 51-ft.-diameter parachute with eight suspension lines — the biggest ever used in an extraterrestrial landing — and retrorockets designed to slow the craft almost to a hover. Then there was the little matter of the spacecraft’s transforming itself into a sky crane just prior to landing, using nylon cords to lower Curiosity the final 25 ft. to the ground.
Anything that involves what is essentially a Transformer (spacecraft to sky crane in this instance) is OK in my book.
Scientists are hoping the rover discovers evidence of microbial life on Mars, but here are a few things from popular culture I'm betting Curiosity won't discover on our next-door neighbor:
1. A buggalo via "Futurama": Half cow, half bug, all awesome. In "Futurama," they are native Martian animals. I would not suggest drinking their milk, however.
2. Marvin the Martian via "The Looney Tunes": Easily the most annoying character among the cartoon cast. Even more so than Tweety Bird. OK, that's a like. But still, the rover should be thankful he won't actually be there. He's very annoying.
3. "Total Recall" – But then again, movie-goers seemingly weren't able to find it either.
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