See Photos and Video From Mars Rover Curiosity
After an eight month journey, NASA’s multi-billion dollar rover Curiosity made a successful landing on Mars early this morning. Mission controllers cheered after the six-wheeled, one-ton machine made a perilous seven-minute landing involving a parachute, rocket pack and sky crane.
The $2.5 billion rover, which is meant to operate for at least the next two years, safely touched down in the midst of Gale Crater and beamed back its first images. This is NASA’s first astrobiology mission since the Viking probes in the 1970s.
While roaming the surface of Mars, Curiosity will attempt to determine if the Red Planet was ever capable of supporting life. It will also use a full suite of sophisticated equipment, including 17 cameras and instruments that can analyze soil and rocks, to do so.
“The successful landing of Curiosity — the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet — marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
NASA expects Curiosity to operate for two years, but if its performance is anything like past Mars rovers, it may last much longer. The Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on Mars in 2004, were meant to only last 90 days. But Spirit lasted until 2010 and Opportunity is still functional.
Check out photos below.