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May 23rd, 2008
11:41 AM ET

NASA braces for '7 minutes of terror' on Mars

An artist rendering of the landing of the Phoenix mars lander.

An artist rendering of the landing of the Phoenix mars lander.

Seven minutes...

After years of planning and nine months of space travel,
seven minutes is all it takes to make or break a Mars landing.

That's the amount of time it takes an orbiting spacecraft to hit the Martian atmosphere, brake, and hit the ground. Mission scientists call it "seven minutes of terror."

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Filed under: Mars • NASA