06 August 2012

Mission To Mars

It's a big day for Earth. Curiosity, the most advanced spacecraft ever sent to another planet, managed to pull off its extremely complicated landing procedure last night (Sunday, 5th August, 2012). Here's an interesting video that delves deeper into the exact technologies involved in landing Curiosity on Mars.

Curiosity is set to begin its two-year hunt for the building blocks of life. In other words: signs that we may not be alone in the universe... Exciting stuff right? Because the landing occured about 154 million miles from Earth, the entire landing sequence had to be automated - a decision that may have had engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La CaƱada biting their nails off. To add to the difficulty, the Earth also "set" below Mars' horizon shortly before Curiosity was due to land, making direct communication with mission control almost impossible. Needless to say, early this morning, space scientists heard the phrase they had been waiting on for 10 years: "Touchdown confirmed."

Curiosity is set to revolutionise our understanding of the Red Planet. It will spend the next few years gathering evidence that Mars is, or was, capable of fostering life. You can keep up with all things Curiosity on Twitter, and make sure to add to the conversation by using the #MarsCuriosity hashtag. Have a great week!

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