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When people look at it, it looks crazy. That’s a very natural thing. Sometimes when we look at it, it looks crazy.

Thus begins NASA’s video about the challenges of dropping a lander on Mars. Trust me: you have no idea how complicated, terrifying, and amazingly awesome this mission is – and this is just the landing! This is NASA’s “Seven Minutes of Terror” where the entire mission lives or dies based on the most ambitious planetary landing in the history of human space exploration, and lucky for you – it’s all detailed here.

I’ve heard Mars missions described as “hitting a bullseye on a target 100 Million miles away, with a 200 million dollar bullet.” Last Saturday, one of the most complicated scientific machines ever created began its journey to the red planet. If all goes according to plan, the Mars Science Laboratory, and its payload of the Curiosity Rover, will land within a 12 square mile target on August 5th, 2012 to begin searching for whether Mars could support life – either in the distant past or even perhaps the near future.

This is an artist’s rendition of how the MSL will land on Mars, as well as some of the highlights of the journey. If you ever wanted to see just how complicated it was to fire that 200 Million dollar bullet, this is a good place to start.

I say it all the time, but science is awesome!