If you haven't heard, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, known as Curiosity, is slated to land on Mars on August 6th at 1:30am EST. As if designing, testing, launching, navigating and surviving the fiery plunge into Mar's atmosphere isn't hard enough, NASA has upped the ante with one of the craziest feats of Engineering.
The Curiosity Rover is the size of a small car, far too big to use an airbag landing system (as with its predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity) nor a legged landing system (as with Viking I and II). What do you? You try something new and unproven. A Sky Crane. A rocket-powered Sky Crane. A rocket-powered Sky Crane that will float above the Martian surface and lower the Curiosity Rover to the ground. If anyone could pull this off, it's the Engineers and Designers at NASA.