Nasa counts down to dramatic Mars landing
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - With a mixture of tense nerves and confidence, Nasa counted down on Sunday to the landing of its largest ever robotic rover on Mars, where it will search for signs that life may once have existed.
The US$2.5 billion (S$3.1 billion) Mars Science Laboratory, featuring a car-sized rover called Curiosity, is expected to land on Mars at 1.31pm, Singapore time on Monday.
However, success is anything but certain with this first-of-its-kind attempt to drop a six-wheeled chemistry lab by rocket-powered sky crane on an alien planet. Nasa's more recent rover dropoffs were done with the help of airbags.
"We are rationally confident, emotionally terrified and ready for EDL," said Nasa engineer Adam Steltzner, leader of the US space agency team tasked with entry, descent and landing (EDL), a process Nasa has called "Seven Minutes of Terror."