The landing will place the Mars rover closer to its final destination for science operations, but it will also place it precariously close to the foot of a mountain slope, which raises the possibility of a mission failure. A successful landing depends on a newly designed rocket-powered sky crane, which is expected to gently lower the car-sized rover onto the surface of Mars.
“We’ve done everything we can to ensure the greatest probability of success,” NASA manager Dave Lavery told reporters during a conference call. “The reality is, this is a very risky business. Historically, only about 40 percent of the missions to Mars have been successful,” he said." capitolcolumn
Is this really a good idea? Budgets for planetary exploration are severely constrained. Why take additional risks on the landing in order to avoid driving longer to the objective? pl