\input zb-basic \input zb-matheduc \iteman{ZMATH 2013e.00720} \itemau{Davis, Marsha; Vest, Floyd} \itemti{Mission possible: Curiosity's flight to Mars.} \itemso{Consortium, No. 103, 11 p., pull-out section (2012).} \itemab Summary: On November 26, 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory (MLS) spacecraft carrying Curiosity began its trip to Mars. The orbits of planets as well as Curiosity's path from Earth to Mars can be modeled with ellipses. In the first activity, students are introduced to the definition of an ellipse and learn relevant terms -- major axis, minor axis and eccentricity. Groundwork is laid for the derivation of the standard equation of an ellipse. At the end of the activity, students apply Kepler's first law to develop models for the orbits of Earth and Mars. In the second activity, the models of the planets' orbits are polar equations. At the end of the activity, students learn about Hohmann transfer orbits -- an elliptical orbit about the sun that takes the Mars Science Laboratory (with Curiosity) from Earth to Mars. \itemrv{~} \itemcc{M50 G40 G70} \itemut{ellipses; student activities; Kepler's laws; orbital transfer; space flight; equations of ellipses; planet orbits; polar equations; Hohman transfer orbits; analytic geometry; mathematical applications; astronomy; distance; graphics calculators; flight path to Mars; eccentricity of an ellipse; graphical representations; perihelion; aphelion} \itemli{} \end