Mars Rover “Curiosity” Lands On Mars …Update: “Everything Looks Great!”

This artist’s concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface. ChemCam fires laser pulses at a target and views the resulting spark with a telescope and spectrometers to identify chemical elements.

What an amazing scientific feat by NASA geniuses.  Weighing 2,000 pounds and approximating the size of a car, the rover “Curiosity” has successfully landed on Mars.

Reuters explained the goal of this mission,

The Mars rover Curiosity, on a quest for signs the Red Planet once hosted ingredients for life, closed in on fringe of the Martian atmosphere on Sunday for a make-or-break landing attempt that NASA calls one of the toughest feats of robotic spaceflight.

Curiosity, the first full-fledged mobile science laboratory sent to a distant world, was scheduled to touch down inside a vast, ancient impact crater on Sunday at 10:31 p.m. Pacific time (1:31 a.m. EDT on Monday/0531 GMT on Monday).

Mission control engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles acknowledge that delivering the one-ton, six-wheeled, nuclear-powered vehicle in one piece is a highly risky proposition, with zero margin for error.

But less than an hour away from Curiosity’s rendezvous with Mars, JPL’s team said the spacecraft and its systems were functioning flawlessly, and forecasts called for favorable Martian weather over the landing zone.

After a journey from Earth of more than 350 million miles (567 million km), engineers said they were hopeful the rover, the size of a small sports car, will land precisely as planned near the foot of a tall mountain rising from the floor of Gale Crater in Mars’ southern hemisphere.

Update:  According to the NASA engineers on NASA’s live Ustream, the first images came through and they report that “everything looks great”!

Update:  NASA has just published its first images from Curiosity.



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