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And so…we landed on Mars!
No, this isn’t the beginnings of a Ron Hubbard novel, but actual real life. At approximately 1:31am, last night, or morning rather, Curiosity landed on Mars. And there was no cat to kill it either.
Fox News reports, “Through the chute, a unique robot arm and a rocket-powered hood, the rover slowed until it drifted to a stop on Mars, to cheers and applause from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory late Sunday.
“Touchdown confirmed,” engineer Allen Chen said. “We’re safe on Mars.“
Minutes after the landing signal reached Earth at 10:32 p.m. PDT, Curiosity beamed back the first black-and-white pictures from inside the crater showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun.
“We landed in a nice flat spot. Beautiful, really beautiful,” said engineer Adam Steltzner, who led the team that devised the tricky landing routine. The rover then released a slightly higher resolution pair of pictures.”
And from the NASA website, “NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.
“Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030’s, and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”
Just wait until the dust settles…
Curiosity landed at 10:32 p.m. PDT Aug. 5, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. During a nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.