Mars Rover: Seven Minutes of Terror

NASA is on the edge as multibillion-dollar Mars rover tries to "stick the landing."
3:00 | 08/04/12

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Transcript for Mars Rover: Seven Minutes of Terror
This evening a powerful explorer heading to mars and preparing for a landing nasa scientists describing 7 minutes of terror they're so nervous about it. Abc's clayton sandell is standing by at nasa tonight at their headquarters in pass zina, california. Reporter: Forget the olympics, 352 million mile journey to mars, this is the landing to stick. During the touchdown sequence sunday night into monday, the mars science laboratory will hit the planet's atmosphere at 13,000 miles per hour. Eating to a scorching 3800 degrees before a giant parach hits the brakes. Then using a technique never tried before. Rockets will lower the largest robot explorer ever. A mini cooper-sized robot named curiosity. It all happens in what the team calls seven minutes of terror. A whole bunch of things have to go right. For us to make it to the surface of mars. I'm rationally confident and emotionally terrifying. Because earth and mars are so different it's impossible to test everything they wanted before liftoff last november. How nervous does that make you? Incredibly. At a time when nasa's budget is shrinking, the curiosity mission is a $2.5 billion gamble. What are true questions that bother all us humans. Where did we come from, are we alone? Reporter: To answer that question, they'll look at signs for where life may have once resided. Using cameras to unlock the red planet's geologic secrets. As scientists we want to answer the big question, are we alone in the universe. Why did life evolve on earth and should we expect it anywhere else. Reporter: At this point the mission is completely automati the spacecraft will land itself. At this point they can't wait until the rover touches down and hopefully, david, foams home.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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