Watch NASA's New Mars Lander Make a Perfect Landing

Friday, 23 June 2017 - 3:45PM
NASA
Technology
Space
Friday, 23 June 2017 - 3:45PM
Watch NASA's New Mars Lander Make a Perfect Landing
Image credit: NASA
When you read the transcript of the first Moon landing, two things come to mind: first, that the whole thing was a lot more touch-and-go than we commonly imagine—between communications troubles and a lot of on-the-fly adjustments, things could have gotten real bad real fast. Second is just how crazily primitive the technology was. Among the notes in the transcript is an admission by Buzz Aldrin that it was anyone's guess where they actually landed:

Opening quote
"Somewhere, we had a state vector (three-axis position and velocity) update because of the tracking data that Houston got once we came around...That neat capability contributed to the accuracy of our touchdown, even though nobody knew (exactly) where we were."
Closing quote


Other parts mention Neil Armstrong using a sextant to try to get a lock on the Sun, as well as using little guide marks on the windows to try and figure out their altitude. If you remember, sextants are the same devices used by sailors for navigation during the 18th century. Compare that to the COBALT lander:



It's pretty amazing to see SpaceX land one of their rockets upright on a platform at sea, but this NASA lander is cool in its own right—as the video says, these will hopefully be used in exploration of the Moon and Mars. No sextants required.
Science
Science Videos
NASA
Technology
Space
No