Science & Technology
August Mon 06, 2012
Curiosity has landed on Mars. The largest and most intelligent rover laboratory ever built reached the Red Planet this morning. The news was greeted with great enthusiasm in the United States both on the part of the NASA workers who brought the event about, and also by the public and all the people who followed the operation on the social networks, blogs, online newspapers, TV and even on a big screen set up in Times Square.The official confirmation came from data sent by the Mars Odyssey probe. There was much concern, especially about the landing maneuvers, which were highly dangerous and difficult. The risk of failure was high, but fortunately everything went well. The operation lasted 420 seconds, “seven minutes of terror” for scientists, in which a robot the size of a car, weighing a ton, had to settle gently on a treacherous terrain through automated mechanisms including the largest supersonic parachute ever built and a sky crane.At this point, Curiosity can devote itself to its mission: hunting for traces of life forms. For now, the rover has already sent a “postcard” in the form of a photo taken soon after the landing operation. It took a picture which shows one of its wheels resting on the red surface of the Gale crater. Its mission will last two years, though it could continue for longer. President Barak Obama was enthusiastic on getting the results of the landing. He stated, “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”. He continued, “And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world”.The rover is going to determine Mars’ habitability by testing the rocks and soil for evidence that it could have been life supporting. It will also give scientists an idea of the history of the geology of Mars by examining the different layers of a mountain in the Gale crater, Aeolis Mons, or Mount Sharp. Scientists are also using this mission to prepare for possible future manned missions to Mars. The total cost of the project is $2.5 billion.
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