MSL, EDL, Huh? Guide to NASA's Mars Mission Lingo

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press
If you

Sky crane touchdown system lowers Mars rover "Curiosity" onto surface, artist rendering provided by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

If you're planning to tune into NASA's Mars landing attempt this weekend, you have to learn the lingo.

The language that scientists and engineers use is so technical and full of abbreviations that it can sound downright alien.

Take the rover's name. The public knows it as Curiosity. In the halls of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it's called MSL -- short for Mars Science Laboratory.

Come Sunday night, Curiosity will go through EDL or entry, descent and landing -- as it plunges through the Martian atmosphere for a touchdown.

Signals will come through the DSN or Deep Space Network, which communicates with interplanetary spacecraft.

If you're still confused by the dizzying shorthand, just look for the reaction in mission control.

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