BANGALORE, INDIA: The countdown has begun for Mars rover Curiosity to hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph (20,920.5 million kph).
[image_library_tag 098/15098, align=”left” width=”164″ height=”118″ title=”Mars rover Curiosity” alt=”Mars rover Curiosity” border=”1″ vspace=”10″ hspace=”10″ complete=”complete” complete=”complete” style=”width: 164px; height: 118px” ,default]The landing will mark the beginning of a two-year prime mission to investigate one of the most intriguing places on Mars. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory carrying the Curiosity rover has separated from the cruise stage that carried it from Earth to the Red Planet.
The rover, snug between a protective back shell and heat shield, is about minutes away from entering the Martian atmosphere and landing.
With its approximately 352 million mile (567 million kilometer), 36-week journey from Earth nearly complete, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its Curiosity rover are "all systems go" for touchdown in Mars’ atmosphere, according to NASA.
The spacecraft is headed for its target entry point at the top of Mars’s atmosphere.