On Sunday, mankind—well, actually a robotic vehicle—took a giant leap.
Curiosity, a one-ton rover and NASA's most advanced robot, landed hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack on the surface of Mars to begin its search for water.
Curiosity landed at 10:32 p.m. local time Sunday night near the foot of Mount Sharp - three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter - and inside Gale Crater, the place scientists believe they will find water, . Curiosity will take about two years to complete its mission.
The project involved thousands of scientists and researchers, all in the pursuit of finding life on Mars. A team of scientists at NASA Ames was instrumental for the rover's arrival because they created the parachute that dropped the craft.
This is the third rover the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team has placed on the surface of Mars. The first two, rovers called Spirit and Opportunity, landed in 2004. However, Curiosity has traveled farther and has been designed with more advanced instruments.
The rover carries scientific instruments, some a first-of-their-kind, with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Curiosity will drill and scoop soil and powdered samples of rock, then sieve and parcel out these samples using analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.
But Curiosity won't just be digging around for water. It will also tweet, with the help of NASA, about its journey on the red planet.
Did you miss its landing? Here's what made it on to twitter from Curiosity and others about this historic event in chronological:
@MarsCuriosity 9:24pm It's landing day & I'm hours from Mars! Watch my final @NASA prelanding briefing, Aug 5 9:30am PT (1630 UT) http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl
@AnonNep @MarsCuriosity 10:14pm Don't tweet & drive - its dangerous!
Additional reporting by Courtney Buchanan.
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