The arrival of the Curiosity rover on Mars may well be the biggest, boldest extraterrestrial landing for NASA since Apollo 11 settled down on the moon on a summer's night in 1969.
Curiosity is scheduled to land in the Red Planet's Gale Crater late Sunday or very, very early Monday, depending on your Earthbound time zone. Confirmation of the landing should come at about 10:31 p.m. PT Sunday for folks on the U.S. West Coast, or 1:31 a.m. ET Monday for those on the East Coast. The rover will have actually touched down before that, but there's a 14-minute communications lag time for signals traveling the 154 million miles from Mars.
The space agency will begin its live coverage Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET on the NASA TV site and will also show the coverage via UStream:
Live stream on Disclose.tv
The $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission has been in its spaceflight phase for about eight months, since a liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in late November. But the centerpiece of the mission is only just about to begin -- two Earth years of Curiosity roaming some 12 miles up a towering mound of sedimentary rock in Gale Crater known as both Aeolis Mons and Mount Sharp.