NASA Dials Up the Drama With Trailer for Mars Mission

$2.5 billion at risk during '7 Minutes of Terror'

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory employs slick visuals and a bit of Hollywood hype in this movie-trailer-style clip that seeks to build excitement for the Aug. 5 landing of the $2.5 billion Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. The video is called "Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's 7 Minutes of Terror," a reference to the lag time between when the lander reaches Mars and when NASA will learn its fate. Adding extra drama are the narrators, whose starkly shadowed features and grim scientific talk of danger turn them from mild-mannered engineers into ominous cinematic characters. (I guess Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, wasn't available for voiceover work this time around.) The nature of the Martian atmosphere and the planet's rugged terrain make the landing an especially complicated task—involving a supersonic parachute and high-tech crane/harness contraption—and there's a pretty good chance the undertaking could go awry, resulting in the probe's destruction. No worries, NASA. If Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that no matter how badly a space epic ends, there's always hope for a sequel.

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