This is the best video I’ve seen so far explaining how Curiosity was designed to land. I’m just amazed that it worked. Twelve year old Space Cadet Jimmiejoe was bouncing up and down, telling me it was going to work no sweat, but I really didn’t believe him. I worried that the parachute would fail, or the heat shield would get hung up, or the retro-rockets wouldn’t fire correctly… and I really sweated the whole sky-crane thing. That was just crazy writ large! Hover 60 feet in the air, and drop this huge thing down on a tether? Are they nuts?? Then the tethers had to be cut, allowing the rocket frame to fly away. If that hadn’t worked, it would have dropped on top of the lander once it’s fuel ran out.
BUT IT WORKED!
Congratulations to NASA and JPL!
You know what would be cool? I know it can’t happen, but wouldn’t it be something if Curiosity could, at the end of it’s science programs, drive to one of the other lander’s locations, just to visit? Too far, over terrain that would probably be impossible, and the mechanisms of the machine would likely never survive, but that would be something to see.