0:15 - Obviously heat shield separation
~0:25 to 0:30 - Back shell separation and powered flight
0:31 to 0:38 - The rover banks to move towards the
upper left corner of the screen (camera looks opposite
direction of motion)
0:38 to 0:41 - The rover banks the opposite direction
and stops its horizontal motion to drop straight down
~0:47 - Skycrane maneuver begins
0:48 - Wheels deploy (top left corner of screen)
Touchdown is shortly after the video ends
But imagine the PR benefit of getting full-motion video and audio from Mars. Even if we don't learn anything interesting from this, the media effect would have been tremendous. People could finally see video and sound on the evening news, in HD...almost like being on Mars. It's too bad the MER team wasn't willing to do this, seems like it would have been a relatively cheap addition to the project.
But don't get me wrong, this is still very, very cool.
Invest in a ring of small satellites in mars orbit, have them broadcast to earth satellites using line of sight transmitters for whatever mars satellite is facing the earth. Once you build such a system you can reuse it for each future mars/deep space mission.
Nasa was actually doing this but the program got canceled.
Use open standards so other nations can expand the network.
How much would it cost to cover the inner core of the solar system with 100 Mbit/s bandwidth using a mesh network of satellites?
Also does anyone want to do an off-planet backup solution startup?
If you read the blog of the MER driver at http://marsandme.blogspot.com/ you can see this tension already play out sometimes, both in scheduling nice panoramic pictures and managing the data storage until a transfer window opens. Science normally wins. :)
One of the surprising thing to me about the internet response to curiosity is that I've seen many commenters who seem to assume we can stream live HD video from Mars; some expected it to somehow manage this feat even while landing. But really, Curiosity talks directly to Earth at only 32kbps, and has around 16 minutes per day of high-bandwidth (2 mbps or less) communication with the Mars orbiters.
NASA = 7 successes
everyone else = failure
It will be interesting to see if there is any followup as to whether the SkyCrane maneuver is really required, or, whether in the future, we can land directly on rocket engines. Particularly with the Plutonium power supply - no need to be concerned about solar cells getting covered in dust.
Also - I seem to recall that there can be fairly significant dust storms on mars anyways - so it's not as though landing without rocket engines means that the Rover will be immune from getting struck by pebbles/rockets/dust.
"These dust covers were one of the last things added to the rover. The MSL HazCams are build-to-print copies of the MER HazCams. On MER, the cameras were protected inside the lander, and in over 10 rover-years on the ground they haven't seen dust building up enough to be worrysome. The Skycrane system was supposed to reduce the plume ground pressure during landing to the point where dust wouldn't be an issue for MSL."
"But after Phoenix landed and everyone saw the pictures of pebbles ON TOP OF the pads on the bottom of the lander legs, and the legs themselves coated with a sticky looking layer of dust, some concerned folks looked at the issue more closely. It turned out there is a core flow in the Mars Lander Engines on the descent stage that stays strong all the way to the surface, even hanging at the end of the skycrane. And that can kick up a lot of dust+reaction products during the skycrane maneuver, some of which would go back towards the rover. There was a review of hardware in danger of being coated with "sticky" dust; everything was determined to be dust tolerant EXCEPT the HazCams."
Curiosity is 900kg just for the rover. If you added in landing rockets and their fuel as well it would be well over double the mass of a Viking lander, so the force of the landing rockets and therefore dust agitation would be commensurately greater.
Another advantage of a skycrane is that the rockets need to angled away from the payload anyway, and so the point where the plumes hit the surface is some distance from the payload, whereas rockets in the payload itself would hit the ground immediately below or to the side of it. Much closer.
Somewhat related, and perhaps my favorite facepalm moment in space probe history: "...the titanium lens cap on Venera 14 landed precisely on the area which was targeted by the soil compression probe." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera#Venera_camera_failures_a...)
Edit: ah, the Youtube description says the beginning part is the heatshield separating.
Is the cloudy stuff at the end of the video just dust kicked up by the rover, or an existing cloud (of dust)?
Also, I would love to see some image stabilization applied.
EDIT: Answered! http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4349125
The cloudy stuff is dust from the powered descent. The top bit lowered the MSL down via cables which were 20m long, so the distance was short enough to blow up the dust but far away enough to not cause too much disturbance (they were worried about damaging the MSL)
I'm not sure why you linked me to the original post.
> When does the parachute detach? When is the sky crane activated?
What really rubs me the wrong way are some of those Youtube comments that go like "Why spend so much money on NASA?". Clearly, the spendings on NASA are minuscule compared to what the US spends on it's military or on the banks. That's a rather sad fact.