Seven Minutes of Terror

In November of last year, NASA launched a rocket carrying a brand new Mars rover. Dubbed Curiosity, it is five times larger than the two previous rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and is scheduled to land on August 6 of this year.

As with everything NASA does, the Mars missions might seem a bit underwhelming at this point. After all, they’ve done it before, right? How hard can it be?

Well, aside from the fact that Mars is currently 200 billion kilometers away from the Earth (and that changes each day, as the two planets orbit the sun at different rates) through an endless ocean of empty space, there’s also the problem of successfully landing a robot onto the planet’s surface.

In this video, the team that designed Curiosity’s landing system discusses just what makes this so difficult to achieve: