This artists rendering furnished by using NASA shows the Mars Rover, Curiosity. After travelling 8 1/2 months and 352 million miles, Curiosity will strive a landing on Mars the night of Aug. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/NASA) It's the U.S. Area corporation's most bold and high priced Mars challenge yet — and it starts with the crimson planet arrival Sunday of the neatest interplanetary rover ever built. It may not be clean. The complex landing NASA designed for the Curiosity rover is so unstable it is been described as "seven minutes of terror" — the time it takes to head from thirteen,000 mph (20,920 kph) to a complete stop. Scientists and engineers can be waiting anxiously as the spacecraft plunges thru Mars' thin surroundings and, in a new twist, tries to slowly lower the rover to the bottom of a crater with cables. Scientists on Earth won't recognise for 14 mins whether Curiosity lands safely as radio alerts from Mars travel to Earth. If it succeeds, a video camera aboard the rover could have captured the most dramatic minutes for the primary filming of a landing on another planet. "It could be a primary technological leap forward if it really works. It's a huge gamble," stated American University space policy analyst Howard McCurdy. In this 2011 report artist's rendering furnished by NASA/JPL-Caltech, a "sky crane" lowers the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover onto the floor of Mars. After touring eight half months and 352 million miles, Curiosity will attempt a touchdown on Mars the night of Aug. Five, 2012. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech, file) The destiny direction of Mars exploration is striking on the final results of this $2.5 billion technological know-how project to decide whether the surroundings turned into once appropriate for microbes to stay. Previous missions have observed ice and symptoms that water once flowed. Curiosity will drill into rocks and soil searching for carbon and different factors. Named for the Roman god of warfare, Mars is an unforgiving planet with a opposed history of swallowing guy-made spacecraft. It's hard to fly there and even tougher to touch down. More than 1/2 of humanity's tries to land on Mars have resulted in disaster. Only the U.S. Has tasted success. "You've completed the whole lot that you can think about to make certain task fulfillment, but Mars can nevertheless throw you a curve," said former NASA Mars czar Scott Hubbard, who now teaches at Stanford University. In this 2011 artist's rendering furnished through NASA/JPL-Caltech, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover examines a rock on Mars. After journeying eight 1/2 months and 352 million miles, Curiosity will attempt a touchdown on Mars the night of Aug. Five, 2012. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech, record) The Mini Cooper-sized spacecraft traveled eight and a half months to reach Mars. In a sort of celestial acrobatics, Curiosity will twist, turn and perform different maneuvers during the seven-minute thrill experience to the surface. Why is NASA attempting this type of daredevil flow? It had little desire. Earlier spacecraft dropped to the Martian floor like a rock, swaddled in airbags, and bounced to a stop. Such turned into the case with the plenty smaller and lighter rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004. At almost a ton, Curiosity is just too heavy, so engineers needed to come up with a new manner to land. Friction from the skinny surroundings isn't always sufficient to gradual down the spacecraft without a few assist. During its fiery plunge, Curiosity brakes by means of executing a sequence of S-curves — just like how the gap commute re-entered Earth's atmosphere. At 900 mph (1,450 kph), it unfurls its big parachute. It then sheds the warmth shield that took the brunt of the atmospheric friction and switches on its ground-sensing radar. Curiosity then jettisons the parachute and fires up its rocket-powered backpack to slow it down till it hovers. Cables unspool from the backpack and slowly lower the rover — at less than 2 mph (three.2 kph). The cables keep the rocket engines from getting too near and kicking up dirt. Once the rover senses touchdown, the cords are reduce. Even if the complex choreography is going consistent with script, a freak dust storm, sudden gust of wind or other trouble can mar the touchdown. This Sept. 16, 2010 report photo suggests engineers running at the Mars rover Curiosity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. After visiting 8 1/2 months and 352 million miles, Curiosity will try a touchdown on Mars the night of Aug. Five, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, report) "The degree of trouble is above a 10," stated Adam Steltzner, an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission. The rover's landing target is Gale Crater close to the Martian equator. Scientists realize Gale became once waterlogged. Images from space display mineral signatures of clays and sulfate salts, which form inside the presence of water, in older layers close to the bottom of the mountain. During its -yr exploration, the plutonium-powered Curiosity will climb the decrease mountain flanks to probe the deposits. As sophisticated as the rover is, it cannot look for existence. Instead, it contains a toolbox which include a strength drill, rock-zapping laser and cellular chemistry lab to smell for organic compounds, considered the chemical building blocks of lifestyles. It also has cameras to take panoramic images. In this July 25, 2012 image, Rob Manning, chief engineer, speaks to media at NASA Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Beside Manning is a version of the Mars rover, Curiosity. After touring eight half months and 352 million miles, Curiosity will try a touchdown on Mars the night time of Aug. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) Humans had been mesmerized through Mars for the reason that 19th century when American astronomer Percival Lowell, peering via a telescope, theorized that wise beings carved what looked like irrigation canals. Scientists now think that if life existed on Mars — a massive if — it might be in the shape of microbes. Curiosity will discover whether the crater ever had the proper surroundings for microorganisms to take hold. Explore further: New animation depicts subsequent Mars rover in action Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This cloth may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.