Wonder what they are really up to now with all of this. In the press conference last night, they claim they are looking for "human foot prints"!!!!
UStream feed here:
NASA rover Curiosity makes historic Mars landing, beams back photos
Mon Aug 6, 2012 8:07am EDT
(Reuters) - NASA's Mars science rover Curiosity performed a daredevil descent through pink Martian skies late on Sunday to clinch an historic landing inside an ancient crater, ready to search for signs the Red Planet may once have harbored key ingredients for life.
Mission controllers burst into applause and cheers as they received signals confirming that the car-sized rover had survived a perilous seven-minute descent NASA called the most elaborate and difficult feat in the annals of robotic spaceflight.
Engineers said the tricky landing sequence, combining a giant parachute with a rocket-pack that lowered the rover to the Martian surface on a tether, allowed for zero margin for error.
"I can't believe this. This is unbelievable," enthused Allen Chen, the deputy head of the rover's descent and landing team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles.
Moments later, Curiosity beamed back its first three images from the Martian surface, one of them showing a wheel of the vehicle and the rover's shadow cast on the rocky terrain.
NASA put the official landing time of Curiosity, touted as the first full-fledged mobile science laboratory sent to a distant world, at 10:32 p.m. Pacific time (1:32 a.m. EDT/0532 GMT).
The landing marked a much-welcome success and a major milestone for a U.S. space agency beset by budget cuts and the recent cancellation of its space shuttle program, NASA's centerpiece for 30 years.
The $2.5 billion Curiosity project, formally called the Mars Science Laboratory, is NASA's first astrobiology mission since the 1970s-era Viking probes.
"It's an enormous step forward in planetary exploration. Nobody has ever done anything like this," said John Holdren, the top science advisor to President Barack Obama, who was visiting JPL for the event. "It was an incredible performance."
Obama himself issued a statement hailing the Curiosity landing as "an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future."
"It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination," he said.
CHECKUP FOR CURIOSITY BEFORE IT ROVES
While Curiosity rover appears to have landed intact, its exact condition was still to be ascertained.
NASA plans to put the one-ton, six-wheeled, nuclear-powered rover and its sophisticated instruments through several weeks of engineering checks before starting its two-year surface mission in earnest.
"We're going to make sure that we're firing on all cylinders before we blaze out across the plains," lead scientist John Grotzinger said.
The rover's precise location had yet to be determined, but NASA said it came to rest in its planned landing zone near the foot of a tall mountain rising from the floor of a vast impact basin called Gale Crater, in Mars' southern hemisphere..........................
Aug 5-6, 2012, Mars Rover Mission/ Richard C. Hoagland
Coast to Coast AM - August 05 2012 - Mars Rover Mission