Matter of Fact

How to land on Mars? Very carefully.


[ Theme music plays ]

Very carefully.

Your spacecraft hurtles toward the planet at thousands of miles per hour, so you'll have to hit the brakes in a hurry.

[ Brakes screech ] First, your capsule needs a heat shield.

It protects the spacecraft inside from the heat and friction of entry into the atmosphere.

Friction slows you down over 90% but not enough to land safely.

Use a parachute to slow down even more.

Still, falling at over 100 miles per hour, you need the right system to land safely.

Here are some options.

With a small to midsize rover, use a cushion of airbags along with retro rockets.

Impact at 30 miles an hour and bounce to a stop.

[ Tape rewinds ] With a large lander, use retro rockets and landing legs to touch down going about 6 miles an hour.

[ Tape rewinds ] Or with a large, heavy rover, use a big jet pack to slow down to under 2 miles an hour.

Then gently lower it on cables to land on its wheels.

Any way you do it, you'll need skill and hard work.

There's nothing easy about landing on Mars.