Mars: Mission Accomplished

The Mars Rover Curiosity, launched November 26, 2011, successfully landed on Mars late last night, marking the most extreme level of travel in modern history thus far. We’ve made it to Mars. Curiosity will now embark on a two year, $2.5 billion mission searching for life on Mars. The engineers at NASA have named the final minutes of the rover’s landing “the seven minutes of terror.” Curiosity had to slow its speed from 13,000 MPH to a complete stop without crashing. The landing was what would make or break the entire mission. But, the rover made its landing smoothly, allowing Al Chen, engineer on Curiosity’s Mars entry, to say “Touchdown confirmed.” The engineers burst into cheers.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) hopes to determine whether or not Mars could have ever supported life, study the geology and climate of the planet, and plan a human mission. Moments after landing, the rover sent back a grainy image of the surface of Mars.

This is an amazing achievement in human history. President Barack Obama said this:

Statement by the President on Curiosity Landing on Mars

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.

(Courtesy of The White House)

You can follow the Curiosity rover on Twitter @MarsCuriosity for live updates and hopefully more images of the Red Planet.

Congratulations to NASA and the team of engineers behind Curiosity. Read more about Curiosity and the Mars mission here.

Happy Travels!