After seven routine months of spaceflight, NASA is bracing for six minutes of terror in January, when the twin rovers it launched earlier this year punch through the atmosphere of Mars to land on the Red Planet. Each of the unmanned, $400 million rovers must be slowed from 12,000 mph to a complete stop within minutes after first plunging into the planet’s tenuous atmosphere. A strong gust of wind, or a single sharp rock, could destroy either or both rovers.
NASA braces for dangers of landing twin rovers on Mars Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Science fiction author’s birthday celebrated with Mars viewing Sarasota Herald-Tribune
It was an opportunity too perfect to let pass: the 83rd birthday of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury came as Mars made its closest approach in nearly 60,000 years. Members of the Planetary Society marked the occasions with a party Saturday at their Pasadena headquarters. Then 150 guests went to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, where they peered through a five-foot telescope at the Red Planet celebrated in Bradbury’s stories.