News / Science & Technology

    NASA Celebrates Mars Rover Landing

    Related Articles

    Suzanne Presto
    The mood at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory mission control center in California quickly changed from anxiety to exhilaration, with cheers erupting, as soon as engineers confirmed that the Curiosity rover made a perfect landing on Mars August 6, after a nearly 9-month voyage from Earth.  
     
    Mars Science Lab team members were jubilant as they learned the rover's parachute had deployed, its rocket thrusters had ignited, and its skycrane had activated for a flawless touchdown. 

    Within minutes, Curiosity provided its first black and white image from Mars.  The rover sent an image of its wheel, proof of a solid landing. 
     
    At a news briefing Monday afternoon, NASA showed more images from Curiosity's first few hours on its new home planet.
     
    One showed a windswept Martian plain.  Scientists say another shows what might be an outline of Mount Sharp, the peak in Gale Crater that is expected to yield information about the planet's evolution.  

    NASA video of Curiosity landing process



    Mission Manager Michael Watkins said colorful panoramic and three-dimensional images will come. "But these first images are always somehow the best to me because when you land on Mars, it's new every time," said Watkins.  "This is a new place on Mars.  We go on vacation to see a different part of the Earth.  It's on our own planet, and here we're seeing a part of Mars we've never seen before."  
    An image from a satellite obiting Mars of Curiosity's landing parachuteAn image from a satellite obiting Mars of Curiosity's landing parachute
    x
    An image from a satellite obiting Mars of Curiosity's landing parachute
    An image from a satellite obiting Mars of Curiosity's landing parachute
    But Curiosity was not only a photographer. It also was photographed.
     
    From a distance of about 340 kilometers, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took a picture of the Mars Science Lab - its parachute deployed after its fiery descent through the Martian atmosphere.
     
    The detailed image thrilled those in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory briefing room.
     
    And everything seemed to thrill everyone at the post-landing news conference. 
     
    John Grunsfeld, a NASA scientist and former astronaut, said, "There are many out in the community who say that NASA has lost its way, that we don't know how to explore, that we've lost our moxie. I think it's fair to say that NASA knows how to explore.  We've been exploring.  And we're on Mars."   
     
    • This image shows the first color view of the north wall and rim of Gale Crater where Curiosity landed. The picture was taken by the rover's camera at the end of its stowed robotic arm and appears fuzzy because of dust on the camera's cover.
    • This image shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, informally called Mount Sharp. The rover's shadow is seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. In the distance is the highest peak of Mount Sharp.
    • NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute, left, descend to the Martian surface on August 5, 2012. The inset image is a cutout of the rover stretched to avoid saturation. The rover is descending toward the etched plains just north of the sand dunes.
    • In a stop motion frame taken during the NASA rover Mars landing, the heat shield falls away during Curiosity's descent to the surface of Mars.
    • One of the first views from NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. It was taken through a wide-angle lens on one of the rover's Hazard-Avoidance cameras.
    • The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team in the MSL Mission Support Area celebrates after learning the Curiosity rover has landed safely on Mars and images start coming into the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California August 5, 2012.
    • Xavier Cabrera (front, C) of New York, celebrates while watching a live broadcast of the NASA Mission Control center in Time Square, in New York, August 6, 2012.
    • About two hours after landing on Mars and beaming back its first image, NASA's Curiosity rover transmitted a higher-resolution image of its new Martian home, Gale Crater.
    • NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars' south pole in this artist's concept illustration.
    • The target landing area for NASA' Mars Science Laboratory mission is the ellipse marked on this image of Gale Crater on Mars (top L).

    NASA Administrator Charles Bolden looked to the future. "Today, right now, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars," Bolden said. 
     
    The nuclear-powered mobile laboratory has a two-year mission to explore the Red Planet.
     
    Bolden said the rover "will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed there on Mars or if the planet can sustain life in the future."
     
    NASA officials say initial tests show the rover's 10 science instruments survived the long journey.  In the coming days, checkout procedures will continue, and the rover will send additional images.  And before long, Curiosity's science mission will begin.  

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mark Kaplan from: Ann Arbor Michigan
    August 07, 2012 11:44 AM
    A"Mars"ing achievement of science and technology. Worth every dollar spent. We should do exploration and science and look for new life and new worlds and at the same time preserve the beauty and life on our own planet. Peace not war.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    August 07, 2012 5:02 AM
    Congraturations NASA!! I understand how much its staffs are jubilant. NASA has transfered its mission of sending astonauts to outerspace to private aircraft company. Now, NASA has acomplished the amount of difficult mission NASA is payed for. I suppose all steps from deployment of parachute to flawless touchdown of rover is undertaken automatically. It's great, cool, and fantastic!! Who could say there is no possibility that there live lives surviving in dry and high tempereture as of today?

    by: Sara from: India
    August 07, 2012 3:25 AM
    Very well done scientists at Nasa. The coming generations would be thankful to you for showing them what is nothing less than a miracle. The technological advancement has surely helped to achieve this miracle.

    by: saumya from: India
    August 07, 2012 1:23 AM
    A complicated landing which NASA has never tried before. A journey which lasted for almost 8 months. This landing was a moment of pure joy.
    A costly mission that it was we already have a couple of photos from the surface of Planet Mars.
    Here is all that you should know about this one Complicated Landing and all that is now in store for us on Earth:

    by: Pyotr from: Siberia
    August 07, 2012 12:40 AM
    Congratulations to scientists of NASA! Congratulations to Americans, you've once again proved to be the avante-garde of exploration! Congradulations to all of us!

    by: Mike
    August 06, 2012 10:08 PM
    Curiosity rover landing is an outstanding achievement of American science and technology!
    The U.S. has an excellent opportunity to consolidate its technological leadership in the world and send a manned Mars spacecraft. The Americans were the first on the Moon, and they should be first on Mars!

    by: C. John Hill from: Norfolk, England
    August 06, 2012 11:20 AM
    Before walking the dog this morning, I sat down and watched the Mars Lander Team at JPL monitoring the successful touchdown of Curiosity (06.31 BST - GMT+1). I consider this event to be one of the greatest achievements of the human race - the science and engineering involved was truly remarkable.
    Well, done, America - well done, indeed; a special moment which will be remembered in the history of mankind.
    In Response

    by: Pam Botha from: Taipei, Taiwan
    August 07, 2012 12:57 AM
    agree John, was sooo excited to be able to alive for such an exciting event!! Well Done to everyone involved, and to say Thank you for us " that are also so curious!
    In Response

    by: Ciaran Mulcahy from: Dublin, Ireland
    August 06, 2012 5:28 PM
    Fantastic culmination of achievments which began with the Lauch of Viking 1, and its landing on Mars, followed by its immediate successor; coverage of which, for me, was from live VOA., on shortwave, as we didn't have satellite TV., or the Internet.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.