by Jim Nintzel
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses photos from the UA's HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to show how NASA's Mars Science Lab will land in August 2012. Nancy Atkinson of Universe Today notes:
Entry, descent and landing is the big moment for any Mars lander mission, and the big honkin’ Mars Science Lab and its sky-crane landing system will truly be unique. This brand new video from the Jet Propulsion Lab shows how MSL, a.k.a Curiosoity will land on the Red Planet in August of 2012. Doug Ellison, part of the team who worked on this computer generated video told Universe Today that the scenes from Mars shown here were created from real elevation data from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the outcrop of rock that Curiosity visits is based on Burns Cliff, visited by Opportunity in 2004.
When they started working on the video, the real rover wasn’t as close to completion as it is now. “The oddity is that we had to finish our virtual rover ahead of the real rover!” Ellison said. “The rover and other major components were derived from simplified CAD drawings, combined with lots of photographs of the actual hardware under construction.”