Yesterday at 05:31 UTC – after a 350 million mile voyage across space – the Mars Science Laboratory, also known as Curiosity, touched down on the planet Mars.
This is a big deal in the science world. The Curiosity rover has been in development for over 14 years, and it was an arduous 253 journey just to get to the planet after launch. For the next two years, Curiosity will drill, sample, and test rocks it collects on the Martian surface to learn what elements and minerals are most prevalent on the planet. More importantly, the rover will be searching for organic carbon that may provide evidence for fossilized forms of life. The rover will also be testing the atmosphere to determine whether there are gasses (e.g. methane) that might be evidence of present-day life. What it finds will determine the agenda for NASA’s future missions to Mars and beyond.
Here are some of the first pictures received from the rover, via Wired:
All images credit NASA/JPL/University of Arizona. See and read more at Wired.