Another giant leap for mankind: NASA rover, Curiosity, lands on Mars after landing scare

by Isi Esene

In a show of technological superiority, the robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater for the most ambitious landing ever in the history of space exploration.

The high-tech interplanetary rover had minutes earlier plummeted through the thin Mars atmosphere raising doubts about the success of the landing since other attempts have not gone as planned.

Earlier attempts to approach Mars by the United States and other countries have been largely unsuccessful. This is the seventh attempt by NASA to make a Mars landing.

United States’ President Barack Obama issued a statement to mark the historic event:

“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.

“The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.

“Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge.

“And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.

“I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover. “

A video camera was set to capture the most dramatic moments which would give everyone their first glimpse of a touchdown on another world.

According to FOX News, the Curiosity landing mission in Mars is one of the most expensive expeditions ever with a $2.5bn expense but NASA hopes this would be compensated for with the expected bonus of discoveries which it believes lies beneath the red soil of Earth’s neighbour. The voyage to Mars took more than eight months and spanned 352 million miles but arguably the most important part of the journey is the landing which Curiosity has achieved early this morning.

The nuclear-powered Curiosity, the size of a small car, is packed with scientific tools, cameras, and a weather station.

Out of more than three dozen attempts by the U.S., Soviet Union, Europe and Japan since the 1960s, more than half have ended disastrously.

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