Maybe We Haven't Given Up On Space After All: NASA's Curiosity Rover Successfully Touches Down On Mars

August 6, 2012


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.

  • Mighty Molecule

    "...WE GOT THUMBNAILS!..."

  • Tony Milano

    What a big deal, send a sloppy robot on a dead planet.


    There WILL be some awesome color high resolution photos coming... keep in mind how long and how limited the data connection is between earth and this rover. The fact we have images this quickly at all is incredible. Its not like we have a gigabit connection to mars, each packet of information has to travel 7 light minutes to reach us. (think about how your wireless router doesn't reach the far end of your house, then think about what it takes to get a signal from the surface of earth to FREAKING MARS)
    ALSO! There is a camera that was specifically designed to capture video of the descent and landing of the rover... it will take some time for that footage to come over the data link, but it should be an INCREDIBLE video coming sometime in the near future.

  • p_shep

    They need to send someone up to clean the lens.

  • Guest

    With 17 cameras (quite an odd number) will hopefully capture something rather outstanding. It would seem that they may also collect samples of the area to analyze it for micro-creatures. Which are possibly plotting to conquer the Milky Way.

  • luxlucetintenebris

    Russia put probes on Mars 1971, obviously not as advanced but still - that was over 40 years ago. Where are the manned missions? Oh, that's right, Nasa has had all their funding cut, relying on the Russians for space travel now.

  • MisterK

    It's an amazing feat. Kudos to NASA. I do wonder why though, with all the money and time they spent on this thing, they didn't put a much better camera on it. The pictures coming back are pretty weak. Sorry to be a downer... I swear that's my only beef at all with something I'll remember forever.

  • da1nonlysage

    Actually, the cameras are better than the one's on the last rover. These early pics are taken with the protective screen still on the camera's lens. don't fret, we'll get the HQ photos soon

  • Javali Javardo

    That pic is shitty only because they need a fast way to know if everything gone right on the landing. So no Hi-Res pic needed.
    The last mission has tons of amazing Hi-Res images of Mars, look for it. Do you think they forgot to put some fancy Amazing camera on this 2.6 billion project??
    Cheers NASA!!! You rock!!

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