NASA’s Mars robotic explorer, Curiosity, has landed safely on Sunday, marking the beginning of its two-year investigation for answer to age-old question about whether Mars could ever have supported life.
According to NASA, Curiosity successfully landed in the Gale Crater at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6). Gale Crater was chosen as the landing site because there are signs that water was present over its history.
Curiosity‘s entry, descent and landing (EDL) dubbed by NASA engineers as “seven minutes of terror” was the most difficult part of the journey.
NASA employed complex ways to slowly land Curiosity, which weighs a ton, with the use of supersonic parachute, a jet-powered backpack and a never-before-used “sky crane.”
During the $US2.5 billion mission, which is expected to last at least 23 months, the rover will look for evidence if Mars may have once harbored the basic ingredients essential for life. It will also study the climate, geology and the radiation level during the journey for future manned mission.