Curiosity on Mars
NASA land the Curiosity rover on Mars…
The NASA control room have been celebrating this morning and rightly so as their one tonne rover vehicle ‘Curiosity’ landed successfully on the surface of Mars at 05:32 GMT on 06 August 2012.
It was a mission ten years in the making and though this is the fourth rover to land on the red planet this is the most ambitious Mars mission by a long way. Because of the increased sophistication of the vessel the timescales of this mission have been extended to much longer than preceding efforts on Mars and so will hopefully derive much richer data from the planet.
The largest instrument on Curiosity is almost four times as large as the first robot that was sent to Mars and due to a plutonium battery this rover should be able to work for much longer than previous efforts that relied only on solar-power. Currently operations are funded for two years but it is expected the mission could extend to up to a decade.
The rover landed in a large crater and will begin studying billion year old rocks, looking for traces of water that can be analysed. The mission hopes to discover evidence that earlier Martian environments could have sustained a microscopic level of life.
Mars Landing 2012 is on Discovery Science Monday 10th December 8pm