Mars in a Minute: How Do You Land on Mars?


April 13, 2012

Landing a spacecraft on Mars is one of the trickiest things we do. This 60-second video explains how it's done, and the three landing systems we use at the Red Planet.


TRANSCRIPT

How do you land on Mars?

Very carefully! Your spacecraft hurtles toward the planet at thousands of miles per hour, so you'll have to hit the brakes in a hurry!

First, your capsule needs a heat shield. It protects the spacecraft inside from the heat and friction of entry into the atmosphere.

Friction slows you down over 90%, but not enough to land safely. Use a parachute to slow down even more. Still falling at over 100 miles per hour, you need the right system to land safely! Here are some options:

  1. With a small- to mid-size rover, use a cushion of airbags along with retro rockets. Impact at 30 miles an hour and bounce to a stop!

  2. With a large lander, use retro rockets and landing legs to touch down, going about six miles an hour.

  3. Or, with a large, heavy rover, use a big jetpack to slow down to under two miles an hour. Then, gently lower it on cables to land on its wheels.


Any way you do it, you'll need skill and hard work: there's nothing easy about landing on Mars!

Credit
NASA/JPL-Caltech

320 x 180
video/quicktime

Download

480 x 270
video/quicktime

Download

640 x 360
video/quicktime

Download

1280 x 720
video/quicktime

Download

1920 x 1080
video/quicktime

Download

320 x 180
video/mp4

Download

640 x 360
video/mp4

Download

1280 x 720
video/x-m4v

Download

Image Thumbnail
image/jpeg

Download

Image Full
image/jpeg

Download

Image Browse 480x270
image/jpeg

Download

Transcript
application/pdf

Download

Embed this resource by pasting the following code into your website:

<iframe src="https://mars.nasa.gov/layout/embed/video/?v=46" width="640" height="370" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe>

By using the above code and embedding this image, you consent to Image Policy.

More Videos ›