Mars Curiosity Has Landed

NASA pulled off its most complicated Mars explorer landing ever, which has been called Seven Minutes of Terror. The Mars Curiosity explorer touched down on the red planet this morning and is already sending back photographs.

This one is terrestrial, showing the jubilation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory when the successful landing was confirmed.

Curiosity landed at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. During a nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

"The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph," said NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld. "My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission's team."

A video of the actual descent and touchdown is expected later today. Link -via Bad Astronomy Blog

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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This was so awesome to watch: I had the NASA-TV Ustream feed up while I was running Eyes on the Solar System ( ), and glanced over occasionally at the Times Square Cam at EarthCam.
I'm pretty sure the celebratory High-Fives registered on the seismometers at CalTech. ;o)
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A $2.5 billion touchdown! Earlier in the week, Wired Science had pegged the chances of success at 30%:

Counting all Soviet/Russian, U.S., European, and Japanese attempts, more than half of Mars missions have failed, either because of some botched rocket launch on Earth or a systems malfunction en route to or at the planet. The success rate for actually landing on the Martian surface is even worse, roughly 30 percent.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden had said, "It’s like us launching something from Kennedy Space Center and having it land in the Rose Bowl, on the 50-year-line, on a Frisbee."

So a huge congratulations is in order!
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