NASA may be outsourcing its manned flights into outer space, but our nation's space agency is still quarterbacking its exploration of the Red Planet. Next month, the Mars Science Laboratory rover is scheduled to make its way to Mars in an effort to learn more about the mysterious planet. The rover, known as Curiosity, will be lowered onto the surface of Mars using an entirely new process. Instead of wrapping it in an airbag-like case that's used to break the fall, like it usually does, NASA has developed a completely autonomous system that involves a high-tech parachute and a skycrane that will lower the rover to the surface. The whole thing sounds overly elaborate, but we guess nothing's too crazy when you're ensuring the success of a $2.5 billion mission. 

Head to Gizmag for a full explanation of the landing process. 

[NASA via Gizmag]