NASA's nuclear-powered rover Curiosity lands on Mars

Aug 07, 2012, 01:09 IST | Agencies

NASA confirmed through a tweet that their nuclear-powered rover Curiosity had landed on Mars today.

The most high-tech Mars rover built landed on the red planet yesterday after an epic eight-month 352 million mile journey.
Nasa said it received a signal from the Curiosity rover after a plunge through the Martian atmosphere described as ‘seven minutes of terror’.

The rover is the size of a small car, so engineers had to come up with a new way to set it down. For the first time cables were used to lower the rover inside of a giant crater. At $2.5 billion, it is the most ambitious and priciest Mars mission yet.


Engineers work inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility, prior to the landing of Curiosity rover on Mars, at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California (Pic-AFP)

For the next two years, the rover will drill into rocks and scoop up soil. It will be exploring whether the planet’s environment could have supported life in the form of microscopic organisms. 

Curiosity’s target was Gale Crater, near the Martian equator, where there is geological evidence of past water.

Proof that Curiosity was on Mars came in the form of thumbnail images showing the planet’s rock-strewn surface and one of the rover’s wheels. “Touchdown confirmed,” said engineer Allen Chen. “We’re safe on Mars.” 

Dr John Bridges, one of two British scientists leading teams on the mission, wrote in a live blog from mission control: “It’s down - landed! The first images are already being sent back via Odyssey. They are Hazcam images, showing a shadow cast by Curiosity on the Gale surface. Lots of very happy and excited people in this room! What an opportunity we have now to explore this fascinating planet.”

Dr Bridges said, “The science community has been given a very valuable chance to move forward our understanding of how Mars has evolved. How long did wet conditions last and were there standing bodies of water on Mars? I hope the effective combination in MSL of science objectives and space engineering will point the way towards more exploration of the solar system and technological innovations.”

One of the team members responsible for sending Curiosity rover on the red plane is Amitabh Ghosh. Speaking of the development, he said it “very exciting” and showed “great promise.”

I’m safely on the surface of Mars. Gale crater I am in you

You asked for pics from my trip. Here you go! My 1st look (of many to come) of my new home... MARS!

It once was one small step... now it's six big wheels. Here's a look at one of them on the soil of Mars

To the entire team & fans back on Earth, thank you, thank you. Now the adventure begins. Let's dare mighty things together!

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