Mars mission on its way!

A HISTORIC VOYAGE to Mars has begun with the launch of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity.

The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on August 6, 2012.

During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favourable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.

The Atlas V rocket initially lofted the spacecraft into Earth orbit and then, with a second burst from the vehicle’s upper stage, pushed it out of Earth orbit into a 567-million-kilometre journey to Mars.

Adapted from information issued by NASA.

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  1. Pete says:

    What a sensational launch sequence! It seems to be so much more elegant (if a little less heart-pounding) than the days of the old Saturn Vs. But it still gives me a huge kick for the day, knowing we can achieve these kinds of engineering marvels.

    Having said that…

    I wonder if NASA will ever join the human race and stop using feet, pounds, and furlongs?

    Whenever I hear the “x million pounds” or “x thousand miles per hour” mass/velocity references (instead of kilos and klicks), all I can think of is Entertainment Tonite.

    While I absolutely support the outreach they’re attempting, I don’t think aiming at the lowest common denominator (the general American Joe Public) is the best way of bringing the rest of the world with them.

    In a country held back by so much superstition and nonsensical beliefs (84% of Americans still believe in magic!), not pushing the envelope seems to be a copout.

    But at least NASA is trying!