Launched in November of 2011, last night NASA's rover Curiosity successfully landed on Mars, ready to begin its two year mission to determine whether the red planet was ever capable of supporting life. Thankfully, everything went according to plan and didn't end as just another expensive embarrassment. *eying diamond-and-gold encrusted peen* What was I thinking?
The $2.6 billion Curiosity made its dramatic arrival on Martian terrain in a spectacle popularly known as the "seven minutes of terror."
This jaw-dropping landing process, involving a sky crane and the world's largest supersonic parachute, allowed the spacecraft carrying Curiosity to target the landing area that scientists had meticulously chosen.
The spacecraft had been traveling away from Earth since November 26 on a journey of approximately 352 million miles (567 million kilometers), according to NASA.
Curiosity, which will be controlled from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has a full suite of sophisticated tools for exploring Mars. They include 17 cameras, a laser that can survey the composition of rocks from a distance and instruments that can analyze samples from soil or rocks.
352 million miles -- I can't even fathom that distance. Of course, sometimes the liquor store seems forever away too and I can actually see it from my bedroom window. Sometimes I stay up at night just staring at the neon sign and wondering. So it's kinda like space in that regard too. High-five, NASA.
Thanks to everyone who sent this for still believing in space.