An illustration of the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. — Photo Reuters

WASHINGTON: Are we alone? Or was there life on another planet? Nasa's $2.5 billion dream machine, the Mars Science Laboratory, aims to take the first steps toward finding out when it nears Mars's surface on Monday.

The planet is Earth's closest neighbor, and scientists have found signs of water there, hinting that some form of life was once likely, even though Mars is now a dry place with a thin atmosphere, extreme winters and dust storms.

Nasa said it will find out if its Mars Science Laboratory and rover, Curiosity — designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life and send back data to prepare for a future human mission — landed safely at 1:31 am Eastern time (0531 GMT) on Monday.

That will be about 14 minutes after the touchdown actually happens due to the time it takes for spacecraft signals to travel from Mars to Earth.

As of late Saturday, the laboratory was approximately 261,000 miles (420,039 kilometers) from Mars, closing in at around 8,000 miles per hour (13,000 kilometers per hour).

“Curiosity remains in good health with all systems operating as expected,” Nasa said in a statement.

The nuclear-powered rover is the biggest ever built for planetary exploration, weighing in at one ton, about the size of a small car, and carries a complex chemistry kit to zap rocks, drill soil and test for radiation.

More From This Section

Erdogan challenges social media in top Turkish court

The Twitter block was lifted earlier this month after the court ruled that it breached freedom of expression.

Health care site flagged in heartbleed review

Password change recommended following a review of the government's vulnerability to Heartbleed Internet security flaw.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new privacy policy explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov

Local drugmakers cashing in on MNCs’ departure

Some seven local pharmaceuticals have already inititated projects costing Rs3 billion to Rs5bn in the last 2-3 years.


Comments are closed.
Explore: Indian elections 2014
Explore: Indian elections 2014
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
How much do you know about Indian Elections?
Poll
From The Newspaper
Tweets