In a few hours, a space ship will release a capsule into the atmosphere of Mars. Onboard jets will align it to the proper vector for entry. The heat shield will heat up to 1,600 degrees celsius and the capsule will slow from 13,000mph to 1,000mph. After a few minutes, the heat shield will drop off and a giant parachute will deploy, slowing it down some more. However, the parachute is still not enough to achieve a safe landing speed so the capsule will pop open and out will drop a small “space crane” carrying a remote controlled rover the size of a car. Retrorockets will slow the whole thing down to manageable speed for landing. But since the retrorockets will kick up too much dust, the crane will lower the rover on a 21 foot tether as it hovers. After the little car/rover thingie touches down, the space crane thingie will release the tether and accelerate up so that it can crash at a safe distance. Then we’ll have our latest remote controlled rover on the surface of Mars.
The whole thing will somehow burn up on entry or crash violently into the surface of Mars and since all this happens while it’s out of contact with us, we’ll never know what happened to our two and a half billion dollars.
Graphic credit: NASA