NASA's Curiosity rover is feeling the tug of Mars' gravity as it prepares to land on the Red Planet.
The car-sized rover is on track to touch down on the surface of Mars with a signal expected back at 10:31 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5 PDT to confirm that it has landed safely. Equipped with a huge array of science instruments and powered with a plutonium battery, Curiosity is the largest and most ambitious rover ever sent to another world.
"After flying more than eight months and 350 million miles since launch, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is now right on target to fly through the eye of the needle that is our target at the top of the Mars atmosphere," said Mission Manager Arthur Amador at JPL.
All eyes will be on NASA as they await the crucial first signal to indicate that the complex new "sky crane" landing system required to get the rover safely to the surface has worked correctly.
"The gravitational tug of Mars is now pulling NASA's car-size geochemistry laboratory, Curiosity, in for a suspenseful landing in less than 40 hours."
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