To drum up even more excitement over what is already a ridiculously exciting mission, NASA decided to team up with Microsoft to turn the Curiosity landing into a video game. It made its debut earlier today on the Xbox 360, it's free, and it actually sounds kind of fun.
"We went to some pains to reflect some authentic details [of the landing] in the game experience," JPL's Jeff Norris told USA Today, "and we are hoping that people a little bit of a taste of what we all are going to be going through late on the night of Aug. 5."
The game was designed to be played using Kinect, the Xbox motion controller. That means that in order to land the rover on Mars, you'll have to use body movements to control the craft's entry into Mars' atmosphere, its descent, and finally its touchdown on the surface of the planet with a rocket-powered sky crane. (Check out some screenshots below.)
"We've tried to simulate that heart-pounding, sweat-dripping seven minutes [the time it will take Curiosity to reach the surface after breaking Mars atmo — aka "the seven minutes of terror"] using Kinect and using users' control of their bodies to get the landing right," says Microsoft's Dave McCarthy.