Mars Rover Mission Helped by Minnesota Research
Researchers here in Minnesota made a difference Sunday night... on Mars!
NASA's newest rover, the $2.5 research machine named 'Curiosity,' made its landing safely to the Martian surface around 10:30 p.m. to much applause at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Also cheering here in Minnesota was Professor Graham Candler, who led a team at the University of Minnesota that helped solve a problem with high-speed parachute use that NASA used to plan the rover landing.
At speeds around Mach 2.5, Candler says, parachutes don't always open properly, which could ruin the mission.
"We showed that they shouldn't try to open the parachute too early in the trajectory because you would get this instability which could cause the parachute to collapse or even tear itself apart," said Candler.
The rover will spend the next two years exploring Mars. One of the biggest goals is trying to find signs of life.