early next Monday morning, 154 million miles from earth, a white and gold UFO-shaped spacecraft will hit the Martian atmosphere traveling at nearly 6km per second. after some hypersonic aeromaneuvering (as you do) NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will deploy this parachute – the largest ever made to fly on an extraterrestrial flight – and start its treacherous final descent. if all goes to plan, a series of rockets will then fire to slow the craft down, enabling it to lower a 1-ton rover called Curiosity towards the surface. if it makes it, the SUV-sized rover will spend the next Martian year (687 Earth days) exploring the Gale Crater for signs of life

you can watch the landing, scheduled for 6:31am GMT on Monday August 6, on NASA TV