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NASA's free video game for Xbox Live: 'Mars Rover Landing' (+video)

Three weeks before the Mars Curiosity rover is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet, NASA had unveiled a new video game that takes players through the spacecraft's 'seven minutes of terror.'

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Agency officials have said they hope Curiosity's performance excites the American public and the nation's politicians, perhaps sparking a chain of events that brings some money back to NASA's planetary science efforts in the future.

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NASA is working hard to get the word out about Curiosity's upcoming touchdown, and it's hosting landing parties at multiple NASA centers.

The agency is also using the event as a teaching tool to engage people in science and planetary exploration. For example, NASA has produced 1,500 copies of a Mars-specific Braille book for the blind, McCuistion said.

Further, NASA has produced an app for mobile devices called "Be A Martian," which keeps users abreast of the latest Red Planet discoveries. Further information about how to follow Curiosity's landing and surface mission is available at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/participate

"Technology is making it possible for the public to participate in exploration as it never has before," Michelle Viotti, JPL's Mars public engagement manager, said in a statement. "Because Mars exploration is fundamentally a shared human endeavor, we want everyone around the globe to have the most immersive experience possible."

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

Copyright 2012 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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