“We’re on the surface of Mars.”
NASA launched Curiosity on November 26, and since then it has traveled 354 million miles. It made a complicated and perfect landing at 1:31 a.m. (that’s Eastern, not Martian, time) Monday.
Curiosity is about the size of a car and a good bit bigger than the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that landed on Mars in 2004.
Curiosity will be able to perform science experiments on the Martian surface, digging up pieces of soil and examining them for signs of life. Scientists also will try to understand how Mars went from a warm, wet planet billions of years ago to the cold, dry place it is today.
The rover has another mission. “Curiosity will set us up for the day when men and women will land on the surface of Mars, and it might not be that far away,” said John Grunsfeld of NASA.