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Media Advisory 13-007

Challenges of Landing "Curiosity" on Mars

Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Charles Elachi is speaker at upcoming NSF Distinguished Lecture

an artist's concept featuring NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot

Curiosity landed near the Martian equator about 10:31 p.m., Aug. 5, 2012 PDT.

May 13, 2013

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

On May 16, the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation will host a Distinguished Lecture on the challenges of landing the rover, "Curiosity," on Mars.

Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, will discuss the intricate technical challenges and engineering steps undertaken to successfully land Curiosity.

The feat, accomplished on Aug. 5, 2012, was one of the most challenging technical endeavors ever undertaken by NASA. It involved an eight-year design and development phase and a nine-month cruise to Mars. Following that, the car-sized rover, carrying a dozen scientific instruments, was "sky craned" onto the surface.

As part of his presentation, Elachi will describe the performance of Curiosity during the last six months, as well as the scientific results so far. In addition, he will discuss future plans for exploring Earth's solar system and the universe, particularly the technological challenges that need to be overcome.

Members of the media and public are welcome to attend, but space is limited. Reporters may contact Bobbie Mixon at or (703) 292-8485; other members of the public can contact Kishan Baheti at or (703) 292-8339.


Charles Elachi


Challenges of Landing "Curiosity" on Mars


Thursday, May 16, 2013,
10 a.m. ET


National Science Foundation Stafford I, Room 375
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, Va. 22230

About Charles Elachi:

Charles Elachi was appointed director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in May 2001. He is also vice president of the California Institute of Technology. He received a Bachelor of Science degree (1968) in physics from University of Grenoble, France; a diplomingenieur (1968) in engineering from the Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble; and Master of Science (1969) and doctoral (1971) degrees in electrical sciences from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. He also has a Master of Science (1983) degree in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Business Administration degree (1979) from the University of Southern California. He joined JPL in 1970 and is a professor of electrical engineering and planetary science at Caltech.


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Radhakishan Baheti, NSF, (703) 292-8339, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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