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Curiosity Kills It, Lands on Mars

Curiosity Kills It, Lands on Mars

The Mars Rover Curiosity landed safely on Mars on Sunday, completing a complex journey to the red planet. Now, its mission can begin.

Curiosity‘s landing was confirmed at 10:32 PDT (05:32 UTC), when its signals from Mars reached the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

The landing included a complex series of maneuvers, including a “sky crane,” which lowered the rover while using rocket power to stay aloft. But Curiosity survived the “seven minutes of terror,” and made a flawless landing at Gale Crater.

“I can’t believe this. This is unbelievable,” said Allen Chen, deputy head of the descent and landing team, according to Reuters.

Within moments of landing, Curiosity beamed back images from its landing site, including a shot of one of its wheels, and another of the rover’s shadow.

The first images were black-and-white, but Curiosity is equipped with high-definition color cameras, as well as an array of scientific instrmentation.

President Barack Obama hailed the achievement.

“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history,” Obama said in a statement. “The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future.”

The rover is the most complex exploration vehicle ever to land on Mars.  The craft is twice as long and five times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed in 2004. The rover is 9.8 feet (3m) long, and weighs a full ton. Curiosity is also powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, as opposed to earlier solar-powered rovers.

After a few weeks of engineering tests designed to ensure Curiosity landed in good shape, the rover will begin exploring Gale Crater, which is believed to have once been the site of a Martian lake. Aeolis Mons, a mountain in the center of the crater, is believed to be composed of sediment laid down in the ancient lake. Curiosity will look for signs of past water, as well as for organic chemicals that could have been created by ancient Martian life.

Curiosity‘s mission is slated to last two years, but it could last much longer. Spirit and Opportunity were both expected to operate for 90 days, but Spirit was able to explore until 2009, and Opportunity is still operational.

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AP Photo/NASA

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38 comments

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3:43AM PST on Nov 17, 2012

How could anyone call knowledge a waste of money? Have we forgotten how to dream? What comes from dreams? It's time to move forward. Im all for it!!!

7:50AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

I agree, Jane. Waste of money it is. Instead of spending milions on fascinating but unnecessary space explorations, what about caring more about the planet we are living on here and now?

7:14PM PDT on Aug 10, 2012

I call it a waste of money. What good will anyone on this earth get from going there? Possibly in 100 years what they learn might help people on earth, but I doubt it!

10:29AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

Cool!

5:15PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Exploration of space should be a collaborative effort with input from space agencies throughout the world. This has already happened; for example, the laser zapper to identify elements present in Martian rocks and soil was supplied by Canada. To save on costs, this ought to be expanded to it's fullest extent. Can Europe,Australia, China and Russia contribute? Do they already? There may be very useful things in outer space that could benefit people. This is too important to confine the research to only a few participants.

3:24PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Yeah, yay for nasa! NOT!
Research Project Blue Beam folks!

Things are about to get nefarious.

1:55PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

This is AWESOME!

1:55PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

This is AWESOME!

1:50PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Can't wait to hear what curiosity will send back

12:57PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Cool at least its better than hearing about mass murder,the middle east,our destroyed economy,The depredations on our constitutional rights perpetrated by both political parties,global warming Corporate fascisim,religious fanatics and a whole shitoad more depressing shit.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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