NASA’s flight engineers call this dive the “seven minutes of terror” because there is no communication between the rover and mission control.
Due to the sheer distances involved – some 200 million miles – signals beamed from Mars will take up to 18 minutes to reach the planet.
In other words, China’s space agency will not know whether the rover has landed or crashed until well after the fact.
Describing the Curiosity rover’s dive towards Mars in 2012, NASA’s Tom Rivellini said: “Entry, descent and landing, also known as EDL, is referred to as the seven minutes of terror.
“Because we’ve got literally seven minutes to get from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of Mars- going from 13,000 miles an hour to zero, in perfect sequence, perfect choreography, perfect timing.