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In just two days, the rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars, after automatic maneuvers that stretch the boundaries of credibility. We find out how, why, and what's at stake for the mission, the future of space exploration and the search for life elsewhere in the universe. Also, spinning the July jobs report, and unfinished business in Washington.

Making News Spinning the July Jobs Report 7 MIN, 36 SEC

Today's monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics allowed for different interpretations. President Obama touted the increase in jobs for creating "the security that comes with work." Mitt Romney called it "another hammer blow to the struggling middle class families of America." Reuters agreed with Romney, but Associated Press found "a hopeful sign after three months of sluggish hiring." Daniel Gross is editor and columnist for Newsweek and the Daily Beast.

Daniel Gross, Strategy + Business (@grossdm)

Dumb Money

Daniel Gross

Main Topic The Mars Landing and 'Seven Minutes of Terror' 36 MIN, 2 SEC

On Sunday evening in Pasadena — Monday morning in Times Square — a scientific laboratory is schedule to land on the surface of Mars.With Mars roughly 154 million miles away, the landing can't be controlled from Earth. The Mars rover "Curiosity" is designed to slow down from 13,000 miles an hour to zero in just seven minutes — automatically. If that mind-boggling scenario works, the most complex laboratory ever sent into deep space will try to determine if life might possibly have existed on Mars. Nobody knows if they'll find what they're looking for.Why has NASA spent $2.5 billion on such a risky expedition? Will this weekend's scheduled landing help resolve the fundamental question: are we alone?

NASA centers around the country, including NASA Headquarters in Washington, will be open for landing events. Many science centers also are opening for events focused on the Curiosity landing. To find events near you, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/QtmuY7

Ashwin Vasavada, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Ryan Anderson, US Geological Survey (@marschronicler)
Jonathan McDowell, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (@planet4589)
Emily Lakdawalla, Planetary Society (@elakdawalla)

Reporter's Notebook Bills Left on Hold as Congress Goes on Recess 7 MIN, 22 SEC

Forget about drought relief for farmers and ranchers or cyber-security for critical infrastructure. Congress has recessed for five weeks of political campaigning. The House and the Senate adjourned yesterday, and won't return for more than a month, leaving behind a lot of unfinished business. Jennifer Steinhauer is congressional correspondent for the New York Times.

Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times (@jestei)

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