Friday, August 10, 2012
Just a quick note on NASA's Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars earlier this week. Someone on Reddit described it as being like sinking "an interplanetary hole-in-one." A typical golf hole might be about 500 yards with a cup that's about 4 inches wide, meaning that the angle of the golfer's shot can't be off by more than 0.006 degrees. The Curiosity Rover landed on a planet with a diameter of 6800 kilometers located 1.669 astronomical units away, meaning that the angle of NASA's "shot" can't be off by more than 0.0015 degrees. It's a great comparison, but even as unlikely an event as a hole-in-one underestimates the precision that NASA engineers obtained.