News / Science & Technology

    NASA Lands Rover on Mars

     This artist’s concept shows the sky crane maneuver during the descent of NASA’s Curiosity rover to the Martian surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech) This artist’s concept shows the sky crane maneuver during the descent of NASA’s Curiosity rover to the Martian surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
    x
     This artist’s concept shows the sky crane maneuver during the descent of NASA’s Curiosity rover to the Martian surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
    This artist’s concept shows the sky crane maneuver during the descent of NASA’s Curiosity rover to the Martian surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
    Suzanne Presto
    The U.S. space agency has landed a rover on Mars, completing the most harrowing step in a mission to investigate possible life on the planet.

    Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory erupted in cheers after confirming that the one-ton rover called Curiosity arrived on Mars after an eight-month journey.  The first pictures from the craft were received back on Earth almost immediately after confirmation of the landing Monday at about 0530 UTC.

    NASA scientists called it the most challenging landing they have ever attempted.

    The Curiosity rover is the centerpiece of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission.  Curiosity traveled nearly 570 million kilometers since it was launched in November.
     
    NASA officials told reporters at a pre-landing news conference Sunday that the spacecraft was functioning properly as it sped toward its target. 
     
    Adam Steltzner is the lead mechanical engineer for the rover's critical entry, descent and landing sequence. "It's a little anxiety provoking, but I will say that I slept better last night than I have slept in a couple of years because she's kind of on her own now.  And when I look back at the hard work that we've done, I believe that the team has done everything that we can to deserve success tonight.  Although, as we all know, we can never guarantee success," he said
    • How Big Is It?: At 2.8 meters long, the Mini Cooper-sized rover is much bigger than its rover predecessors, Spirit, Opportunity and Sojourner. 
    • Landing: Where and How: Curiosity will land near the foot of a mountain taller than Pike's Peak near the middle of Gale Crater, which is the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. 
    • Toolkit: Curiosity will use 10 science instruments to examine rocks, soil and the atmosphere. 
    • Big Wheels: Each of Curiosity's six wheels has an independent drive motor. The two front and two rear wheels also have individual steering motors. The wheels' diameter is double the wheel diameter on Spirit and Opportunity, which will help Curiosity roll over obstacles up to 75 centimeters high.
    • Rover Power: A nuclear battery will enable Curiosity to operate year-round and farther from the equator than would be possible with only solar power.

      Courtesy NASA - Click for More
    Curiosity was traveling at about 20,000 kilometers per hour when it hit the thin Martian atmosphere.  It then had only seven minutes to use a parachute, rocket thrusters and a skycrane to reduce its speed and make a safe landing.
     
    Throughout that period, the craft functioned autonomously.  NASA engineers were not be able to witness the events in real time because it takes 14 minutes for radio signals to reach Earth from Mars.
     
    NASA's Adam Steltzner said the scientists and engineers overseeing the project were "rationally confident, emotionally terrified" and prepared.  "As far as the amount of control that the team has during entry, descent and landing, it's identical to the control that anybody watching at home has.  We're all along for the ride," he said. 
     
    Curiosity's hazard-avoidance cameras began taking pictures shortly after touchdown.  NASA received the first low-resolution, black-and-white images within minutes of landing. 
     
    Doug McCuistion is the Director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program.  He says the car-sized rover, which has 17 cameras, will soon provide color pictures. "In the days, years, weeks to come, there is going to be an enormous number of images, incredible images, color images, real color this time, too, so kind of like the human eye will see, which will be really exciting.  Those will come, and there will be plenty of those," he said. 
     
    ​The main goal of the mission is to see whether Mars ever had conditions that could have supported microbial life.  The nuclear-powered Curiosity is outfitted with instruments to investigate Martian geology, weather and radiation levels during the next two years.  
     
    Curiosity is the seventh NASA spacecraft to land on the Red Planet.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: antonio from: italy
    August 06, 2012 9:54 AM
    Great success and a big work well done to the Team, my question now:
    how much info the NASA will keep classified if the find traces of ET?

    by: saumya from: India
    August 06, 2012 12:24 AM
    5 Questions (and Answers) About Tonight's Mars Rover Landing.
    Here's what you may want to know about this venture.
    http://liveoncampus.com/wire/show/3390933

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora