Epic is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days, to the point where it's losing most of its power. However, do know that we're not using it lightly here. What NASA is set to accomplish with their new Mars Curiosity rover is truly an epic undertaking. Don't believe us? Maybe you'll believe William Shatner or Wil Wheaton.
NASA hired the sci-fi icons to narrate two videos chronicling the journey of Curiosity, the largest rover ever built, from its launch eight months ago to how exactly its self-controlled landing on Mars is supposed to take place when it touches down next week at 1:31 am EST on August 6. Given the 350-million-mile gulf in space between Earth and Mars, NASA can't actually control the landing in real time, so they simply must hope that everything goes according to plan during its "seven minutes of terror" descent toward the surface of the Red Planet. How it lands when it gets there is mindblowing.
If you've seen Disney's IMAX movie Roving Mars, you're surely familiar with the balloon-protected bounce system that NASA used to use to land its rovers. Curiosity is too big for that, though, and so they've developed a rocket-powered sky-crane system to land this mechanical titan. It's a marvel of human ingenuity and once you see it (well, a CGI rendering of it), you can't help but be awestruck.
Note: Both the Shatner and Wheaton videos are identical, it's just up to you whose voice you prefer. We're partial to Shatner, but we've included both below.
Good luck, NASA. We're pulling for ya.
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