By, Heather Maloney
At 11:33 p.m. PDT on Sunday, NASA has announced that the Curiosity Rover has landed successfully on Mars. After a 36 week journey from Earth, the rover began its decent onto the planet after a final course correction was deemed unnecessary. Also, it was decided that no additional updates to the spacecraft were required to complete a successful landing.
Launched on November 26, 2011, the rover was sent on a mission to study the geology and climate of Mars. This will help to determine the habitability of the planet and if it is possible that life existed there. Another goal of this mission is to measure radiation on the planet and within the spacecraft. This is an essential piece of information required to begin planning human missions to Mars. When asked on NASA TV why it is important to go to Mars, John Grusndfeld, a NASA Associate Administrator responded “To answer the really important question, which is a human question; are we are alone in the universe?”
Planning for Curiosity began in 2004. By 2008, a majority of the building was complete and testing began. In 2009, NASA held a contest to name the rover which was chosen from an essay submitted by a sixth grader from Massachusetts. The vehicle can travel approximately 98 feet per hour and can drive over objects that are 30 inches tall.