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From Space to Soil in 7 Minutes [Slide Show]

1 of 7

7:00

It waits two seconds to confirm that it is on solid ground and fires several pyros (small explosive devices) to cut the cables and a data umbilical cord. The powered descent stage then flies away and crash-lands approximately 450 meters away.....[ More ]

6:00

At approximately 20 meters above the Martian surface, the rover is lowered on three cables, a configuration known as the sky crane, and placed on the surface, with its wheels and suspension fully deployed.....[ More ]

5:00

By this point, the rover is still supersonic. Designing the chute has been an especially challenging part of the mission. The physics of how a parachute inflates (or oscillates, or does not inflate) at these speeds is not well understood and is extremely difficult to model.....[ More ]

4:00

At an altitude of 10 kilometers, the spacecraft deploys a parachute that is 50 meters long and 21.5 meters in diameter.....[ More ]

3:00

The craft then flies horizontally, burning off speed, as side rocket thrusters steer it toward its landing site.....[ More ]

2:00

The capsule ejects ballast (blocks of tungsten) to shift its center of mass and turn it into a wing that can be piloted. It encounters the upper Martian atmosphere at a hypersonic velocity of approximately six kilometers per second.....[ More ]

1:00

Tucked inside an entry capsule, the rover first separates from its interplanetary propulsion and power systems.....[ More ]

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