It is officially on a two-year mission to explore the red planet.
“Touchdown confirmed,” Allen Chen, an engineer of the control room, stated. “We’re safe on Mars.” The explosive celebration by all NASA ndividuals involved was contagious. NASA’s website, in an influx of internet citizens curious to see photographs, crashed that early Monday morning.
The rover itself, the size of a small vehicle, was lowered into the foot of a mountain in Gale Crater, near the equator of the planet. The crater is guesstimated to contain hydrated minerals, a tip off to main goal of the expedition in assessing whether or not is or has been habitable by life forms.
Explained in detail on the NASA website, “To find out, the rover carries the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments forscientific studies ever sent to the martian surface. The rover will analyze samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially ‘written in the rocks and soil’ — in their formation, structure, and chemical composition. The rover’s onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and will assess what the martian environment was like in the past.”
The rover is equipped with a particular power system that generates electricity from the heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay. It will test for the possible existence of water on Mars by injecting neurons beneath the planet’s surface since water is able to easily absorb them in comparison to any other substance.
The success of the landing is the aftermath of facing difficulties. Previously, the rover was set to launch in the fall of 2009. The overall total then summed up to $1.6 billion (now $2.5 billion). Obstructions caused NASA to bide their time for a little more than two years for the next appointed lining of Earth and Mars. Furthermore, as the rover approached Mars’ surface, there were concerns that the high velocity would instigate a crash.
On a lighter note, the touchdown brought about the internet meme fame for one NASA flight director, Bobak Ferdowsi. He was fondly singled out during the widely watched television broadcast for his unique style and thusly nicknamed as the “Mohawk Guy.”
“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement from the White House, adding, that this, “marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future.”
Read more and keep up with the latest on the Curiosity space mission here.