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One Step Closer: Mars Rover Makes Touchdown

Updated on July 9, 2013
Curiosity takes a photo of its shadow against Mars
Curiosity takes a photo of its shadow against Mars | Source
A relief map of Gale Crater with Curiosity's landing area circled
A relief map of Gale Crater with Curiosity's landing area circled | Source

August 5, 2012 -- Santa Cruz News Network -- Mission successful: NASA's Curiosity rover has touched down on the red planet. The projects' self-proclaimed herd of nerds hopes to study evidence of microbial life having populated the planet. The Curiosity rover is loaded with 75 kg of sampling tools including a laser that can zap rocks and determine their chemical makeup.

Against the Odds, Curiosity Is Safe & Sound

Tom Holcomb, a leader on the rover project, told the BBC that his team was confident about having a successful landing. Still, behind the scenes other insiders guessed a 40% chance of success. More than half the rovers launched by NASA and the ESA have met with expensive demises. Yet Curiosity was launched at an ideal trajectory, remained on course and survived a journey of 570,00,000 kilometers (354 million miles). An hour ago, the vessel slowed from approximately 12,000 mph to a turtle's pace within seven minutes for a soft landing.

An electronic signal confirming the rover's arrival at Gale Crater was received at approximately 5:30 a.m. GMT.

Facts About the Mars Curiosity Mission

  • It's devoted to the search for evidence of life being sustained on Mars.
  • The project cost US$2.5 billion.
  • Plutonium generators can power the rover for 14 years or more.
  • The rover is equipped with tools that can drill, test, and organize samples of soil, rocks and the air.

Animation of Mars Rover Landing

Diagram of Mars Rover Curiosity

The Mars rover Curiosity is equipped with 12 cameras to help survey its environment.
The Mars rover Curiosity is equipped with 12 cameras to help survey its environment. | Source
Don't forget your hat! Fits well inside an astronaut suit.
Don't forget your hat! Fits well inside an astronaut suit. | Source

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    • profile image

      woodchip 5 years ago

      True, but by definition of it's own name, it should want to. :)

    • SantaCruz profile image
      Author

      SantaCruz 5 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Yes... Aeolis Mons or "Mount Sharp" rises 5.5 km/18,000 ft above the northern floor of Gale Crater. But I don't think that climbing the mountain is Curiosity's mission :-).

    • profile image

      Woodchip 5 years ago

      Have you seen the most recent pics? That's a tall mountain to climb.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 5 years ago from Tennesee

      My husband was just talking about this a few minutes ago!

      Personally, I'd much rather see NASA and the government funding to protect the Earth from asteroids and meteors. But I suppose Mars does have its interests.