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NASA successfully lands rover on Mars

MSL Flight director Keith Comeaux (R) celebrates with Martin Greco after a successful landing inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on August 5, 2012. – Photo by AFP

PASADENA: NASA on Sunday successfully landed its $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover on the surface of the Red Planet, marking the most ambitious attempt to reach Mars in history.

“Touchdown confirmed,” said a member of mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the room erupted in cheers. “We are wheels down on Mars. Oh, my God.”

A dusty image of the rover's wheel on the surface, taken from a rear camera on the vehicle, confirmed the arrival of the car-sized rover and its sophisticated toolkit designed to hunt for signs that life once existed there.

A second image arrived within seconds, showing the shadow of the rover on Mars.

When the landing was announced after a tense, seven minute process known as entry, descent and landing, the room filled with jubilation as chief scientists distributed Mars chocolate bars to the NASA staff members.

However, success was anything but certain with this first-of-its-kind attempt to drop a six-wheeled chemistry lab by rocket-powered sky crane on an alien planet. NASA's more recent rover dropoffs were done with the help of airbags.

In the final moments, the spacecraft accelerated with the pull of gravity as it nears Mars' atmosphere, making a fiery entry at a speed of 13,200 miles (21,240 kilometers) per hour and then slowing down with the help of a supersonic parachute.

After that, an elaborate sky crane powered by rocket blasters kicked in, and the rover was lowered down by nylon tethers, apparently landing upright on all six wheels.

Scientists do not expect Curiosity to find aliens or living creatures.

Rather they hope to use it to analyze soil and rocks for signs that the building blocks of life are present and may have supported life in the past.

The project also aims to study the Martian environment to prepare for a possible human mission there in the coming years.

It has already been collecting data on radiation during its eight and a half month journey following launch in November 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Earlier on Sunday, Mars program director Doug McCuistion called the science “absolutely crucial” to finding out if Earthlings are alone, how Mars evolved from a wet to a dry planet and how accessible Mars may be for human explorers in the future.

“If we succeed, it will be one of the greatest feats in planetary exploration ever,” he told reporters. “Our success rate has been pretty darn good recently.”

However, he cautioned that “these things are really hard to do” and admitted that “we may not be successful.”

Attempts by global space agencies since 1960 have resulted in a near 40 percent success rate in sending landers, orbiters or other spacecraft for flybys to Mars. NASA has the best record.

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Comments (14) Closed

Aug 06, 2012 11:42am
Well Done NASA..... Congratulations..........................
Shahid Mahmood
Aug 07, 2012 05:54am
No benefit for common people, there should something for benefits of mankind bcz huge money being spend on such non sense projects.
Aug 06, 2012 02:00pm
Ya congratulation on investing billions of dollars on a project that would give nothing as output. Instead of going to mars, make this earth a heaven by investing in environmental improvements!
Aug 06, 2012 06:55am
Congratulations on this marvellous achievement , we feel proud on you people who have purpose to live and ambitions to do something. May GOD bless you all and give success for future missions. Cheers......
Aug 06, 2012 07:14am
ohh Common... we have just invented water car... that is more important and close to our real life issues. What does a common man get from Mars?
Cyrus Howell
Aug 06, 2012 07:30am
Who is going to change the flat tire?
Sohaib YAHIA
Aug 06, 2012 10:03am
Hats off to the prowess of mankind. NASA rocks!
Aug 06, 2012 09:15am
Congratulations people....u guys have done a great job.
Aug 06, 2012 09:16am
Congratulations people....u guys have done a great job.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Aug 06, 2012 12:06pm
Congratulations guys way to go a big success now a big chance for other major workings on mars and the best chance working o the projects so again congratulate to those who got chance to work on this project though every member of NASA has part in it .........................Nice Job more to do best of luck..........!
Hamid Abbasi
Aug 06, 2012 06:12pm
May You Reach All Heights In Exploring Space And Beyond.Congratulations. Hamid Abbasi
Aug 06, 2012 07:13pm
Congratulations, simply great !
Aug 06, 2012 07:14pm
Salutes to NASA !
Aug 07, 2012 07:46am
Inventions of water cars... that is more important and close to our real life issues. What does a common man get from Mars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!