engadget.com | By James Trew
Is there life on Mars? NASA’s latest mission to the red planet might well answer that question, or perhaps the more pertinent question, was there life on Mars. At 10:02 AM EST on November 26th last year, the space agency’s Mars Science Laboratory (to give the mission its full name) set off on its eight-month journey to the red planet. The most advanced equipment ever sent to the planet — and the biggest-ever rover — should allow exploration of some of the most interesting regions, over far larger distances than ever previously covered. On arrival, after negotiating a tricky landing, the mobile laboratory (that’s Curiosity) will spend a Martian year (687 Earth days) analyzing rock samples and seeking evidence of conditions suitable for microbial life or — we can live in hope — actual evidence of the same. After the break, we take a look at some of the key events over the first seven days on the planet’s surface.
The Mars Descent Imager Instrument (MARDI) shows the heat shield after separation from the craft.The descentAt 01:32 AM EDT on August 6th, the rover Curiosity successfully negotiates its descent to the surface of Mars, landing at the foot of a mountain within Gale Crater. Just a few minutes after landing, the first tantalizing images start to make their way back to earth.
“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” –NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
Curiosity on its descent to the planet’s surface.