Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Mid-Week Science News Update: Space ballet

80 million miles down. 275 million to go.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled afternoon radio silence with a Mars Rover Curiosity update. From our in-house space correspondent comes word that the Curiosity has successfully performed the first of two planned space ballets on its 352-million-mile journey to Mars.

During the three-hour choreographed maneuver, the Curiosity fired its thrusters some 200 times in a sequence designed to place it on a more direct flight path to Mars. Although flawlessly executed, this course correction won’t be the last. NASA expects the Curiosity to complete a second relatively minor course correction in mid-March.

Without the course corrections, the Curiosity would have missed Mars altogether. NASA deliberately aims the Rover just off-target at launch to prevent the upper stage of the rocket from hitting Mars. Apparently even if you aren’t sure there’s life on Mars, it’s considered poor form to pelt potential planetary neighbors with space debris.*

Though these course corrections are planned well in advance and are a relatively commonplace occurrence (previous Rovers have had to make similar corrections on their journeys), we at Caterpickles Central are still pretty happy that the Rovers make time to dance while traveling at 10,200 miles per hour.

*Personally, I hope NASA also planned a trajectory far far away from Kepler 22b. It would be extremely unfortunate if the rocket crashed into our nearest habitable neighbor and caused an intergalactic incident just at the very moment we Earthlings arrived, hat in hand, looking for a new planet to colonize.

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: