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