NASA is projecting that its largest and most sophisticated planetary rover, Curiosity, will touch down on Mars at 1:31 a.m , EDT on Monday, August 6. You can watch the landing live from Times Square (or from the comfort of your own home on NASA’s UStream.) Can't wait? NASA's preview of the landing sequence, "Curiosity's 7 Minutes of Terror," has already gone viral.
Weighing in at around 1 ton, Curiosity is much larger than its predecessors, Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity. Steve Squyres, principal scientist behind the Mars Exploration Rover mission, presents an exciting nuts-and-bolts account of two previous rovers in Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet. Two other nonfiction books, William K. Hartmann's A Travelers Guide to Mars: The Mysterious Landscapes of the Red Planet and William Sheehan's The Planet Mars, furnish fascinating facts about Mars' history and geology.
And while you're waiting for Curiosity to land, why not dip into a classic science fiction novel? Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is a collection of stories about cultures in conflict. Or try C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, in which a kidnapped hiker wakes up on a mysterious red planet.
Film buffs may want to check out Walt Disney Productions' John Carter, an action-adventure movie based on A Princess of Mars by Edgar R. Burroughs.