How to Land on Mars in a Minute

As we've said before, its not the falling that kills rovers, its the sudden stop at the end. NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab explains how to successfully put a robot on the Red Planet.

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As NASA explains, sucessfully setting down on Mars first requires a heat shield to prevent atmospheric incineration. Then, depending on the size of the payload, either an airbag system will be deployed or retro-rockets can be employed. [YouTube]

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DISCUSSION

The most ingenious thing about the airbag system is that once it settles, the airbags deflate and the petals of the craft open. Upon doing so the unfurled craft will right itself if it happened to com to rest on one of the side petals. Now that is smart engineering.