PASADENA (CNS) – Questions about the successful landing of the space
rover Curiosity on Mars no longer are up in the air.
Curiosity removed all doubt tonight when at about 10:30 p.m. NASA and
Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that signals and images sent
from the Mars rover indicating it had landed safely had arrived on Earth.
The rover was lowered from a spacecraft that used jet thrusters, a heat
shield and parachutes to brake from a traveling speed of 13,200 miles per hour
to a hover over the Martian surface.
The confirmation of a safe landing came from radio signals relayed via a
10-year-old Mars orbiter named Odyssey. The actual landing spot for Curiosity
on Mars was out of sight from Earth at touchdown time.
It took seven minutes for Curiosity’s radio signals to zip at the speed
of light from Odyssey to Earth.
The Martian weather outlook continued to improve, as a dust storm on the
red planet was dissipating.
“Mars is cooperating by providing good weather for landing,” JPL
Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada said prior to the landing.
A dust storm would have been a serious problem for the one-ton, car-
sized rover that is billed by NASA and JPL as the most scientifically advanced
robotic vehicle ever dispatched from Earth. The jet-powered descent vehicle
cannot be steered away from its planned landing site, and NASA has this one
chance to land it.
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