Curiosity Has Landed on Mars!

Curiosity’s shadow on Mars

After traveling for more than eight months through over 350 million miles of space, the Curiosity rover landed safely on the surface of Mars a few hours ago. The 1-ton, $2.5 billion, SUV-sized robot was lowered gently to the planet on a tether from a rocket-fired sky crane almost exactly on the target time of 1:31 a.m. EDT Monday. (I think it was a few seconds early.)

This was an amazing victory for NASA, not only because it puts the most high-powered, sophisticated robotic laboratory ever on the surface of our red neighbor, but because the sky crane delivery system is revolutionary – and, let’s face it, kind of an insane idea to risk billions of dollars on – and the success of the landing should ease the path to more funding for the beleaguered space agency at a time when budget cuts are pushing pure science to the back burner.
Continue reading