So we’ve got this rover we want to put on the surface of Mars, right? And in the past, the things drop out of the sky in their shipping containers, wrapped up in what is basically space-bubble wrap. They fly in on parachutes and then hit the ground, bouncing around for a minute, and then the bubble deflates and the box unfolds and bingo, instant Martian rover.
Now though, the rover is the size of an SUV. Nine feet long, seven feet wide. So what’s NASA gonna do? Lower it from a rocket crane 21 feet up above the surface of Mars. And that’s only if its supersonic parachute works. And the whole time, it’s gotta do it on its own, because it’s too far away to control in real-time.
Space is awesome. NASA is awesome. Let’s land a robot!