Curiosity Touching Down, Artist’s Concept
Curiosity, the largest and most advanced rover ever sent to the Red Planet, is scheduled to land on Mars next August..
The sheer size of the Mars Science Laboratory rover (over one ton, or 900 kilograms) would preclude it from taking advantage of an airbag-assisted landing. Instead, the Mars Science Laboratory will use the sky crane touchdown system, which will be capable of delivering a much larger rover onto the surface. It will place the rover on its wheels, ready to begin its mission after thorough post-landing checkouts. (NASA Goddard)