Nasa’s Curiosity Rover Touches Down on Mars
August 7, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
Today Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory celebrated Curiosity Rover’s flawless landing on Mars, hoping to find evidence of ancient habitable environments.
University of Leicester scientist Dr John Bridges is leading a team of British and French experts in California to analyse data from the $2.5bn (£1.6bn) project. Writing on his blog, he said: “It’s down – Landed! What an opportunity we have now to explore this fascinating planet.” Several parachutes, cranes and other complex pieces of equipment were used in the touch down.
The target landing spot for Curiosity was the Gale Crater. The space machine is due to explore Mount Sharp, a 5km mountain within the crater, which is thought to have held water at some point.
Curiosity Rover is approximately the size of a small car and composed of many high-tech gadgets including a robotic arm, a high resolution camera and a laser. Recent pictures sent from Curiosity show the ground to be relatively flat and void of big rocks, enabling the vehicle to drive around easier.
The Nasa team are keenly awaiting a colour image of the planet, which should arrive within the next few days. Curiosity Rover may take a test drive in a week or two, but serious exploration will not start for a couple of months.
By Zosia Gamgee
[Image courtesy of Luke Bryant]