Live From Mars

A One-Ton Rover Can Teach Us A Lot About The Red Planet--And The Blue One Too

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

This computer generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gail Crater beginning to catch morning light.

The folks in mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory ate a lot of peanuts in the minutes leading up to the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. Peanuts have been the order of the day at JPL when a spacecraft is preparing to land ever since July 31, 1964, when the Ranger 7 probe was making its final approach to the moon. The Ranger's job was a simple one: to crash-land on the lunar surface, on the way down snapping a few thousand pictures to beam back home. Still, six Rangers before it had failed, and the JPL engineers...

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