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Curiosity Has Landed: Mars Rover Touches Down On Red Planet

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Published on Aug 6, 2012

Relive the nail-biting terror and joy as NASA's Curiosity rover successfully lands on Mars.

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The Curiosity rover is car-sized Mars rover examining a deep crater near the Mars' equator. The rover is the largest to date, and is designed to examine whether Mars could have once supported life. It arrived on the Martian surface on August 7, 2012 after leaving planet earth on November 26, 2011.
The rover is a nuclear-powered, mobile chemistry lab, which has dozens of instruments. It is part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission by the United States. The MSL mission has four scientific goals: Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life — including the role of water, study the climate and geology of Mars. It is also useful preparation for future missions, perhaps a manned mission to Mars.
Curiosity carries the most advanced payload of scientific equipment ever used on the surface of Mars.
The MSL spacecraft—with its payload Curiosity—was launched on November 26, 2011 and Curiosity was successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012 UTC (August 5, 2012 PDT, NASA mission control time).

Goals and objectives:
The MSL mission has four scientific goals: Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life — including the role of water, study the climate and geology of Mars. It is also useful preparation for future missions, perhaps a manned mission to Mars.
To contribute to these goals, the Curiosity rover has six main scientific objectives:
1. Determine the mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
2. Attempt to detect chemical building blocks of life (biosignatures).
3. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.
4. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
5. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
6. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons.

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