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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NASA gets interactive for Curiosity mission

The Mars Science Laboratory, AKA "Curiosity" is slated to land on Mars August 5. In preparation for the landing, NASA's come up with a slick interactive game for the Xbox 360 game console. 

Using the Kinect controller, you guide the Curiosity thru EDL (Entry, Descent, and Landing) as the rover makes its way to the Red Planet. I downloaded it tonight and ot to play a few rounds. The more accurate you are at each stage, the more points you are awarded. 

You first guide the vehicle through entry into the Martian atmosphere, and, using your body to keep the vehicle in the "center corridor". You'll go through pockets of turbulence and have to move the vehicle back to keep down the center line.

Next, you enter the descent phase, where you must time your movements to the pyrotechnics that deploy the parachute, eject the heat shield and finally remove the backshell, exposing the rover and leading to the final stage, landing.

In the landing stage you'll use your hands to guide the rover down to the target landing area. Accuracy and ease of landing (with the limited supply of fuel) will count as you put Curiosity down following its "7 minutes of terror".

The game also includes a video and some info on the overall mission. The opening screen contains a countdown timer to the actual landing of Curiosity on August 5th.

The game and video are narrated by Al Chen, who is the Flight Dynamics and Operations Lead for Curiosity. 

It's FREE to download (an Xbox Live membership is required, but you do not need to pay for use of the Live account) and available on the Xbox Live site.

And if you have a Twitter account, you can follow them @MarsCuriosity.

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