At about 5.31 a.m. GMT on August 6th (10:31 p.m. PDT August 5th), NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully touched the surface of Mars.
A nuclear-powered Mars rover, Curiosity is part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. It was launched from Earth on 26 November 2011. The rover
has landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater and has already sent back home the first photo of Mars’ surface.
“NASA's Curiosity rover has landed on Mars! Its descent-stage retrorockets fired, guiding it to the surface. Nylon cords lowered the rover to the ground in the ‘sky crane’ maneuver,” a recent post
from NASA explains.
“When the spacecraft sensed touchdown, the connecting cords were severed, and the descent stage flew out of the way. The time of day at the landing site is mid-afternoon -- about 3 p.m. local Mars time at Gale Crater. The time at JPL's mission control is about 10:31 p.m. Aug. 5 PDT (early morning EDT).”
, NASA has already posted the first pictures that Curiosity
sent to Earth from the Gale Crater, with many more to come. You can see them attached to this post.
“No photo or it didn't happen? Well lookee here, I'm casting a shadow on the ground in Mars' Gale crater,” one Tweet reads.
“It once was one small step... now it's six big wheels. Here's a look at one of them on the soil of Mars,” another update states.
Powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), Curiosity is the largest rover sent to Mars, measuring 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and weighing 900 kg (2,000 lb).
It carries 80 kg (180 lb) of scientific instruments, which represent the most advanced payload of scientific gear that was ever sent to Mars.
The rover is equipped with 6 wheels in a rocker-bogie suspension and includes two means of communication, one that can transmit directly to Earth, an X band transmitter and receiver, and another that communicates with Mars orbiters, a UHF Electra-Lite software-defined radio.