NASA probe Curiosity lands successfully on Mars

Tuesday 07 August 2012 13.40
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First picture from Mars by Curiosity
First picture from Mars by Curiosity
Curiosity is roughly the same size as a Mini Cooper
Curiosity is roughly the same size as a Mini Cooper
NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute are seen descending to the surface of Mars
NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute are seen descending to the surface of Mars
NASA ground control staff in Pasadena celebrate the successful landing
NASA ground control staff in Pasadena celebrate the successful landing

NASA's robotic space craft, Curiosity, has made a successful landing on Mars.

The six-wheeled vehicle was lowered to the Martian surface on three nylon tethers suspended from a hovering "sky crane" kept airborne with retro rockets shortly after 6.30am.

The €2bn science laboratory is fully automated and is being monitored at mission control in Pasadena, California.

After a nine-month journey from Earth, the rover is due to investigate the possibility that Mars may once have hosted life.

NASA said it received a signal from Curiosity this morning after a plunge through the Martian atmosphere described as "seven minutes of terror".

There were scenes of wild jubilation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California when the message came through to mission control: "Touchdown confirmed."

Curiosity can now start its 98-week mission exploring a Martian crater that billions of years ago may have been filled with water.

The nuclear powered rover is bristling with sophisticated technology designed to discover if Mars may have supported life.

Roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004.

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