Monday, August 6, 2012
Nasa's Curiosity rover successfully lands on Mars
The US space agency has just landed a huge new robot rover on Mars.
The one-tonne vehicle, known as Curiosity, was reported to have landed in a deep crater near the planet's equator at 06:32 BST (05:32 GMT). It will now embark on a mission of at least two years to look for evidence that Mars may once have supported life. A signal confirming the rover was on the ground safely was relayed to Earth via Nasa's Odyssey satellite, which is in orbit around the Red Planet.
The success was greeted with a roar of approval here at mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.The mission has even already sent its first low-resolution images - showing the rover's wheel and its shadow, through a dust-covered lens cap that has yet to be removed. The rover even has a Twitter feed associated with it, announcing its arrival by saying: "I'm safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!" A first colour image of Curiosity's surroundings should be returned in the next couple of days. Engineers and scientists who have worked on this project for the best part of 10 years punched the air and hugged each other.
The descent through the atmosphere after a 570-million-km journey from Earth had been billed as the "seven minutes of terror" - the time it would take to complete a series of high-risk, automated manoeuvres that would slow the rover from an entry speed of 20,000km/h to allow its wheels to set down softly. The Curiosity team had to wait 13 tense minutes for the signals from Odyssey and the lander to make their way back to Earth. After the landing, the flight director reported that Curiosity had hit the surface of Mars at a gentle 0.6 metres per second. "We're on Mars again, and it's absolutely incredible," said Nasa administrator Charles Bolden. "It doesn't get any better than this." The mission team will now spend the next few hours assessing the health of the vehicle (also referred to as the Mars Science Laboratory, MSL)... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19144464
Mars video http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2012/aug/03/curiosity-terror-nasa-mars-video Nasa engineers discuss the entry, descent and landing system for Nasa's Mars rover, Curiosity, and describe the challenges of Curiosity's final moments before touchdown at 06:31 BST (05:31 UTC) on Monday 6 August. They explain how the robot has just seven minutes to get from the edge of the atmosphere to the surface of Mars, with perfect delivery and timing