New panoramic pictures of Mars
Former NASA astronauts on newly released images
- Duration 5:49
- Date Jul 10, 2012
Former NASA astronauts on newly released images
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Some new pictures for you that are truly out of this world as NASA releases new images from the Mars rover opportunity.
It shows an incredible panoramic detail of the red planet things we've never seen before.
Joining us now Tom Jones former NASA shuttle astronaut and Fox News contributor Scott Horowitz former NASA astronaut.
And Walter Cunningham a former Apollo seven astronaut what a great panel it is great to have you here.
So we've got this thing running around on Mars right now and you can even see the tire tracks in that panoramic photo.
I guess that NASA put together 817.
To show was the one that we just had on screen.
Tom when you look at what does -- tell you what is it what questions as it rates.
It's a wondrous panorama John opportunities been out there for eight and a half years after its landing in 2004.
And it's ready to embark on another two year.
Travelers across the rim of the endeavor crater looking for signs of habitable climates in the past Mars history looking for water bearing rocks in particular.
And this kind of image just.
I think it inspires us to.
-- want to put human explorers are to follow up the biological questions raised by these -- Walter you say it reminds you of vistas of the American southwest.
The only trouble is it's a little harder to get to isn't.
The very hard to get too but it's a picture that the public can identify with and actually makes the American southwest look.
Pretty much like a paradise.
Personally I'm much more impressed -- the fact that we have the technology that's been developed by NASA over the years.
That eight years.
After the landing of a vehicle that was expected to have a lifetime about three months.
We have the technology to do that and -- also opens the door that probably should get aware of what's going to be happening in another month when we have.
The a new Lander that's gonna make this would look really tiny small and insignificant so.
That's what I'm I'm interested -- -- curiosity what -- it'll.
-- I'm interested in seeing that too but Scott first curiosity has to make a successful landing.
And I want to take our viewers through or maybe you should take us through.
A look at what this thing is supposed to do this is some NASA animation from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Come streaking into the mark martian atmosphere at about thirteen thousand miles an hour there's a heat shield.
Then it drops down by parachute several miles -- when it's about seventy feet off the surface.
This sky crane fires a number of rocket engines.
And lowers the thing closer to the surface.
And then the rover itself.
Drops its wheels and and it hangs there on cables from this rocket I mean it sounds like so much technology.
And an awful lot of room Scott for something to go wrong.
That's right John you went through the entire scenario it says some referred to it's seven minutes of terror.
I was actually at NASA headquarters when reviewed the requirements for the Lander and because of -- -- landing and they couldn't do a direct landing now with the retro -- straight to the surface.
So they had to go to a system like this and -- -- -- lots of what we call opportunities to excel.
And we're keeping our fingers crossed they've done a tremendous amount of analysis and subsystem testing.
But you can't test the whole thing in the real conditions because we don't have those conditions that are on Mars here on -- so it's it's going to be an exciting now landing.
Com it has a lot of risk.
But what we hope is that all of the subsystem testing in the engineering pays off and we see -- successful landing of the rover on -- here next month.
I'm open it is successful it would be a great feather in NASA's gap in the JPL's capita again Tom I just -- just can't believe.
And how complicated this this thing looks as it's you know hurtling toward Mars.
Those seven minutes really are gonna be terrified.
It's definitely accepting a gamble that this technology is going to pay off and we'll read their -- We're going to very difficult target gale crater which -- got a central peak that curiosities but to climb.
In the coming years to search for the signs of a habitable climate in the martian past.
And the payoff will be huge if -- can actually get down there with its biological and -- neurological laboratory but that.
The fact is that we don't have a -- for we haven't been able to afford a twin.
Rover for curiosity just like we did for opportunity in terms of spirit.
Which was that landed -- 2004 so this is -- -- -- one shot.
And there is no forward Mars program beyond curiosity NASA has been told to scale back its Mars.
Effort because of budget constraints and there's no follow up that this one goes wrong.
Walter you we mention you -- part of the Apollo program.
Back in the sixties and seventies when.
You were flying actively back then did you think we would be on Mars I mean with human astronauts by -- I'll have to say that back in those days which was.
Late sixties early seventies there was no one of us in the office that didn't think that we would be.
Have a man on Mars by probably 2000.
And of course we're now farther away from that that we were in those days which really is a reflection of the change.
An attitude of the American public and it's very difficult to stand up and argue for manned landings on Mars now when we have such.
Deep economic problems and because it's never going to be -- Walter Cunningham Scott Horowitz Tom Jones.
Thanks to each of you will be watching that Lander when when it heads toward Mars August 5 thank you and we'll be right.