The Curiosity rover launched by the US space agency NASA has made a spectacular landing on the Mars. The rover Curiosity immediately got down to its job of photographing the landscape and sending back the images. The NASA Mission Control Centre got in no time the images of the Gale Crater complete with sand dunes, mountain views and even haze.
The nuclear-powered Curiosity is to learn whether the Martian environment could have been suitable for microbial life. Since it has to work on a very rough terrain, it has to undergo many health checkups. The rover’s being the most complex spacecraft on the red planet, it needs to be in top shape since it has to spend 2 years there.
The footage is stored on board Curiosity and can be downloaded as time permts. It has sent back a low-quality video and several high-resolution frames that captured the last few minutes of the descent, giving an idea of its landing.
Curiosity’s performance so far has been in line with expectations. Due to its weight of 2,000 pounds, it had to be gently lowered to the surface — a procedure NASA had never tried before. A preliminary reconstruction indicates it landed 1 1/2 miles downrange from the bull’s eye.
Curiosity has joined the long-running Opportunity, which has been exploring the Mars’ southern hemisphere for 8 years now. Opportunity’s twin, Spirit, had stopped working in 2010 after getting stuck in a sand trap.