Curiosity, the largest and most sophiscated spacecraft ever sent to another planet, stuck its extraordinary landing Sunday night in triumphant and flawless fashion, and is poised to begin its pioneering, two-year hunt for the building blocks of life in the red soil.
About two hours after landing on Mars and beaming back its first image, NASA's Curiosity rover transmitted a higher-resolution image of its new Martian home, Gale Crater. Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif, received the image, taken by one of the vehicle's lower-fidelity, black-and-white Hazard Avoidance Cameras.
During a nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.At the end of the mission the science team hopes to finally understand whether Mars could ever have sustained life or maybe even still does.Eventhough the prime mission time is 2 years,It can operate more than 10 years as the core power is from a small plutonium powered nuclear reactor.
The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of Caltech.Nasa's first astrobiology mission since the 1970s-era Viking probes. The landing, a major victory for a U.S. space agency beleaguered by budget cuts and the recent loss of its space shuttle program, was greeted with raucous applause and tears of joy by jubilant engineers and scientists at mission control.