When Phoenix's robotic arm imaged the lander's footpads on the fifth day after landing, scientists discovered that the retrorockets
had exposed a flat layer of bright ice.
One mile above the ground, explosive bolts will jettison the parachute and six retrorockets
will slow the craft to just 1.
At 50 feet above the surface, three retrorockets
on the upper shell fired, the bridle was cut, and Pathfinder plummeted to the surface, bouncing at least three times across the rocky plain in a southwesterly direction.
Electrical problems near the end of the groundbreaking mission meant that he had to manually fire his retrorockets
and successfully steer the capsule through re-entry.
kicked up gravel and dust, pebbles rattled down onto the deck of the spaceship as its landing gear touched solid ground.
Every inch of the craft must be protected by a rigid aeroshell, which bears the brunt of the fastest portion of the descent before parachutes and retrorockets
will fire, stopping the descent at about 100 feet, and the $171 million spacecraft will drop the rest of the way to the surface.
In fall 1998, Visionary will unveil RetroRockets
, a new science fiction media- adventure series for young people, at http://www.
Instead, Curiosity needs to decelerate under the power of retrorockets
, but somehow end up separate from its rocket stage, ready to roll, without the benefit of a protective lander.