News

NASA rover lands on Mars

NASA Ames scientists involved in Curiosity's search for signs of microbial life

The rover Curiosity landed on Mars Sunday night, Aug. 5, shortly before 10:30 p.m., according to NASA officials.

The 1-ton rover was launched into space 36 weeks ago to determine if Mars could host microbial life.

A previous mission, the Mars Pathfinder, successfully sent a roving laboratory to Mars in 1997.

Sunday's two-year mission is unique for those on Earth because parts of the multi-billion dollar mission will be live streamed through NASA's website.

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement. "President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030s, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal."

The car-sized rover landed Aug. 5 near the foot of a mountain 3 miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. Curiosity returned its first view of Mars, a wide-angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover, NASA officials said. More images are anticipated in the next several days as the mission blends observations of the landing site with activities to configure the rover for work and check the performance of its instruments and mechanisms.

Testing of Curiosity's entry, descent and landing was conducted at NASA Ames in Mountain View, and Ames scientists will be involved in the equipment and analysis of the mineral content of the rocks and soil on Mars, according to NASA Ames' website.

Images and video are being posted on Curiosity's Facebook page and updates are being posted on Twitter.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report

Comments

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Posted by randy albin
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

apparently these projects provide employment for the people who are involved in these space missions. in such a horrible economy as this, what justification is there for this kind of a governmental expense? scientifically, this could be very interesting for future consideration. please clarify these questions and be convincing as to how this kind of space exploration meets its criteria


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I, personally, think this is appropriate technology for space research. I do not support manned exploration, too expensive and risky. I congratualte NASA for pulling off this feat! The technology research, alone, is a benefit to all of us. We might even answer some interesting questions.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Truly an amazing accomplishment.

I'll be out after sunset tonight contemplating the southwestern sky. Mars is there, the orange one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Capricorn One
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Is there any long form proof that this space ship actually exists? All the videos that I have seen look pretty easy to put together with Adobe Photoshop. Does anyone think national science programs like this are hoaxes to make Obama look smart?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by VoxPop
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

The Curiosity mission originated in 2004 or earlier. Unless JPL knew Obama was going to be elected four years in the future and planned to have Curiosity arrive on Mars in the middle of a crucial election, no, I don't think it was a hoax to make the president look smart. He's already smart.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm

@ Capricorn One:

Wow -- that is some conspiracy theory that you have there!

First of all, this mission has been in the works for about a decade. Like VoxPop said, it was initially planned in 2002. By early 2004, the nature of the mission was completed...and this was before Obama was elected to Congress. So, there is no conspiracy there to "make Obama look smart" regardless of your feeling about the President.

Secondly, the images from Mars include photo-realistic images of everything from mountains to rocks to dust storms. Other countries followed the landing as well. You can watch the rocket carrying the craft launch on YouTube. Why would you even think that it was faked?

This is an outstanding achievement for NASA and this nation. It was risky...but the risk was worth it. It can be the first step before humans take the next "giant leap" for mankind. Who knows? There may be a need in the distant future to terraform portions of the planet Mars (of, eventually, the planet itself)...and this could be that stepping stone for understanding.

And, of course, we can learn from Mars' past -- including what happened to the "ocean" that might have once covered a large portion of the planet. What happened to the planet that caused it to lose its water?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Darin Selby
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm

" Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it? It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men." Revelations 13:4

As 'remarkable' as landing on Mars was, it still does not take away from the fact of the HUGE amount of rocket pollution left behind as it went into space, and the risk of 10 lbs. of plutonium disbursement in a launch accident.

I see this landing on Mars as no triumph, but more like a casino roulette game that just so happen to be won.

So now, what will be the outcome? More of the same, with more rocket launches and funding for more nuclear-powered spacecraft. As long as humanity supports this kind of activity, a devastating radioactive fallout accident waiting to happen is no longer 'if', it is 'when'.

It is all just one BIG distraction away from what we are here on planet Earth to really cultivate within ourselves. Only TWO things are required of us on this world's 'stage'.

And that is, to 'wake up' in our daily lives and acknowledge that in all of our 'doings', our Consciousness is God. (i.e where our attention goes, our energy flows.)

And then, the second requirement is similar to the first one, and that is to LOVE our neighbors as we would want to be loved. Why? Because they are just another aspect of ourselves! What we do to another, we are really doing to ourselves.

We cannot do the one without having the balance of the other in place as well.

As amazing as this technology seems to be, it still is only a type of insanity to pursue such a course. Because NASA has its own agenda, which does not include taking care of the environment, that we all rely upon for our daily sustenance.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1Cor 13: 1,2

So I maintain my position that going to Mars to laser-beam some rocks is an extremely unconscious and self-serving act, on the part of certain people who have a complete disregard for preserving and caring for the fragile balance of life on THIS planet.

Just imagine what $2.5 billion (which is 2,500 MILLION dollars) would do to start cleaning up the environment! What would you do if given one million dollars to make the world a better place to live in?

Now, multiply that by 2,500 people, who could be given one million dollars each to feed and clothe the hungry, house the homeless, clean up the pollution, and work toward restoring the Earth to its former beauty.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm

@ Darin Selby:

I think that you need to do a little more research into NASA before you go about making such claims.

In case you didn't know (and, from the content of your post, you don't), 80% of NASA's budget is spent on EARTH projects. Just 20% of NASA's budget is spent on exploration projects. Yet, even with the exploration projects, Earth often benefits.

In this case, we might learn about environmental issues that have affected Mars. The water and atmosphere went somewhere (underground, into space, etc...) and we might learn what happened (so that it doesn't happen here).

And, it is ridiculous to suggest that NASA is "unconscious and self-serving" in regard to the environment. NASA has probably done more to study the fragile nature of this world than any other agency or entity.

The $2.5 Billion was NOT spent all at once. It was spent over a period of a decade. The cost is the equivalent of a movie ticket for every American. As one NASA employee stated, this was a film worth watching (for once).

By comparison, the HSR will cost ~$100 Billion to complete from here to Los Angeles.

BTW, there have been numerous nuclear-powered spacecraft. And, there are many, many nuclear-powered vessels in the military. How many nuclear accidents have there been? It is safe...and the best and most efficient means of power for such efforts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 7, 2012 at 1:26 am

Some people are better left in their own worlds.


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