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Curiosity’s Successful Landing - The End Of A Journey And The Beginning Of An Exploration
NASA’s latest Mars Exploration Rover, Curiosity, has successfully landed on the red planet at 10:31 p.m. PDT Sunday (August 5). The actual touchdown of the rover took place at around 10:17 p.m. but it takes around 17 minutes for the rover’s signal to reach Earth.
The Mars Science Laboratory, dubbed as Curiosity, is NASA’s latest Mar’s Exploration Rover after Spirit and Opportunity which both successfully landed during 2003. Curiosity, which is as big as a car and carries advance scientific equipment was launched last November 26, 2011 and took nearly 9 months of deep space travel to reach planet Mars.
Advanced Exploration Rover
The Mars Science Laboratory is the most advanced exploration rover NASA has developed till date. It has over 10 advanced scientific instruments designed to study the red planet’s exogeology, climate and habitability for a possible future human mission to Mars.
7 Minutes of Terror
Upon reaching the final stages of its space travel, Curiosity underwent what the project team calls the “ 7 minutes of terror” which is considered as the most dangerous and critical stage of the rover's deep space journey. During this stage, Curiosity entered Mars' atmosphere at supersonic speed and underwent a series of computer controlled maneuvers to burn off its energy and land safely on the surface of Mars.
Since the signal of the rover takes some time to reach Earth, monitoring teams at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California had to work their way through the dark. Dreadful minutes had passed without any link until they received confirmation that Curiosity had indeed successfully landed. Which in this case it did.
The area of which Curiosity made its landing on Mars is called the Aeolis Palis region of Gale Crater. According to the project’s scientists, the region is said to be the best place to explore because of the traces of different minerals and evidence of water that they have found.
Whats In Store
As of writing, Curiosity has been on the surface of Mars for just over an hour with just a couple of images that has been sent back to Earth . It is expected that Curiosity will be able to provide large amounts of high definition images and valuable data during its exploration activities. Curiosity is also expected to have a lifespan of 10 years.
Curiosity's First Images
Doesn't get any better than this.. - Charlie Bolden
With the unprecedented and successful journey of Curiosity to the red planet, NASA’s Chief Charlie Bolden said just after touchdown "We're on Mars again, it doesn't get any better than this"
For more information and live video updates about Curiosity visit: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/