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Times Square: New York Gathering Place for Live Mars Landing Coverage


New York City's Times Square, 2009. Photo Credit/Times Square Cam


New York City’s Times Square will broadcast live coverage on the big outdoor Toshiba Vision screen  as NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover attempts to land on the Red Planet early Aug. 6.

The towering screen will come to life with NASA mission coverage on Aug. 5 at 11:30 p.m. EDT, and continue streaming mission details until Aug. 6 at 4 a.m.  Third Rock Radio, the online station, will provide audio to match the imagery.

The one ton MSL, also known as Curiosity, will reach its destination traveling at more than 13,000 miles per hour. It must slow to a landing within seven minutes using a high tech aeroshell, a supersonic parachute and a unique landing system called the “Sky Crane” that will hover over the Martian terrain as it lowers the car-sized probe to the surface on a bridle.

Word of the landing is expected reach the Earth andTimes Squareon Aug. 6 at 1:31 a.m., EDT.

NASA Sky Crane Lowers Curiosity Rover to the Martian Surface. Image Credit/NASA

 ”When you think of all the big news events in history, you think of Times Square, and I can think of no better venue to celebrate this news-making event on Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Curiosity is the cornerstone of a $2.5 billion, two-year NASA mission to study the Martian environment and attempt to determine whether conditions were, or are now, favorable for some form of life.

MSL was launched in late November.

Its destination is Gale Crater, a near 100 mile wide impact zone with a towering peak calledMountSharpwithin.

Scientists believe water may have flowed across the now cold arid Martian terrain long ago. Gale may have filled with water. Mount Sparp appears to be comprised of layers of sediment deposited gradually over millions of years. Curiosity will climb Mount Sharp as it collects and tests the chemisty of the rock and soil.

The Times Square broadcast will originate from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory inPasadena,Calif., where the MSL mission was developed. The rover’s flight control and science teams are headquartered there as well.

As the probe makes its descent, NASA’s 11-year-old Mars Odyssey orbiter will be passing over the landing zone. Gale will be turned away from the Earth during the final moments of flight, but Odyssey will be positioned high enough to take signals coming from MSL as it descends and re-broadcast them back to Earth.

The Time Square broadcast will come from NASA-TV, which will also broadcast the activities over cable and satellite television, the Internet as well as smart phones and tablets through the Tuneln mobile app.

To find other community events scheduled around the nation click here.



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