Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Gentle Touchdown

JPL's pages for the Phoenix mission carry probably the most dramatic video ever made for a nerd infodump. Kudos to those involve for creating a genuine sense of the excitement, enthusiasm, and anxieties of performing multiple impossibilities before breakfast, as these guys do. If we're going to get kids wanting to be aerospace engineers, this is surely how to do it.

"Phoenix will hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 5.7 kilometers per second (12,750 miles per hour). In the next seven minutes, it will use heat-shield friction, a parachute, then descent rockets to slow to about 2.4 meters per second (5.4 mph) before landing on three legs."

In case that all sounds too simple, it's got to be done with a 10 minute time-lag, due to all that infinitely irritating speed-of-light malarkey.

"By the time we even hear from the lander that EDL (Entry, Descent & Landing) has started, it'll already be over."

Bloody Hell, as they say in space. "7 Minutes of Terror" about covers it. This truly is Extreme Sport for geeks. If they can't get laid after pulling that off, there's no justice.

May 25th is now firmly in my diary. Please put it in yours.

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