msnbc | August 05, 2012
>>> so far all systems are go for an historic late- night landing on mars. nasa 's curiosity rover is set to touchdown on the red planet around 1:30 monday morning eastern time . the landing of the $2.5 billion robot is being called one of the most high stakes and complex projects of its kind. let's bring tariq malik. why is this such a big deal other than it's just darn cool? i understand you haven't been able to sleep because you're so excited.
>> this is an exciting day. not just for nasa , but for the united states space program . basically, tonight, actually on monday morning, 1:31, nasa will get either a yes or a no from this robot that the biggest rover ever sent to mars, the most capable, and if everything goes the way nasa hopes, it could find out if mars could have ever supported life on its surface in the past or even now.
>> and so you take that information, and the answers from those questions, and what do you do with that?
>> well, nasa wants to know not only if life is present on mars now or was in the past, but if, does that mean that earth isn't as special? we have life everywhere. on our planet.
>> and if we find it on mars, or anywhere else in the solar system , it will help them understand, you know, what are the requirements, how does life evolve. is there life somewhere else on another star?
>> it's interesting, nasa is making this a big deal . they're calling it seven minutes of terror. i want to just play a little bit of a video that nasa 's released explaining all of this.
>> when we first get word that we've touched the top of the atmosphere, the vehicle that's alive or dead on the surface, for at least seven minutes.
>> okay. so the seven minutes we're not going to know what happens. what is the percentage likelihood that it's going to go off okay? because we all get so used to getting the information, we'll expect pictures at some point, and more details. you just kind of think it's going to go okay.
>> in fact, this seems to be the most audacious way to land on mars that nasa has come up with. they're very confident. they haven't given actual percentage odds but they're fairly confident that this is going to work. what they're going to do is go from 13,000 miles an hour to zero in seven minutes, using a rocket powered sky crane that won't even touch down on mars. it's going to come screeching out of the atmosphere, and then it's going to basically hover right here on mars and lower this one-ton rover down on cables, and as soon as the wheels touch the ground it will send a signal to the sky crane it detaches cables, flies off, crashes, the rover, you know, switches on, turns on its cameras, 17 of them, and starts to move back pictures to earth.
>> and it will stay there forever. the mars rover will not be something that a mission will be sent to go bring it back or anything because you'll get the information.
>> exactly. there's going to be two spacecraft watching it. nasa has a bunch of antennas. this thing is built to rove for two years. it has a nuclear power source to keep it going even in a martian winter. they're in it for the long haul.
>> i'll bet. well it's pretty darn exciting, tariq malik, we're so excited to watch it. thank you so much for coming and giving us a preview.