UK & World News
Mars Mission: Rover Lands On Red Planet
Nasa's Curiosity rover has landed successfully on Mars and the most expensive and ambitious mission to reach the Red Planet is under way.
The $2.5bn (£1.6bn) rover made a dramatic touchdown to cheers among staff at mission control some 154 million miles away.
Nasa said it had received a signal from the most hi-tech Mars explorer ever built after a plunge through the Martian atmosphere at 13,000mph described as "seven minutes of terror".
Live: Follow the mission's progress
It slowed down with the help of a supersonic parachute before an elaborate sky crane powered by rocket blasters kicked in and, in a technological first, the rover - the size of a Mini - was lowered with nylon cables into a giant crater at 2mph.
A video camera was set to capture the most dramatic moments - which would give people their first glimpse of a touchdown on another world.
"Touchdown confirmed," said engineer Allen Chen. "We're safe on Mars."
"We landed in a nice flat spot. Beautiful, really beautiful," said engineer Adam Steltzner, who led the team that devised the tricky landing routine.
Minutes after the landing, Curiosity beamed back the first black and white pictures from the surface showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun.
Over the next few days, it is expected to send back the first colour images.
There will also be several weeks of checks that all the equipment is working correctly.
Then the six-wheel rover could take its first short drive and flex its robotic arm that has a power drill and a laser.
For the next two years it will use them to break rocks and scoop up soil, exploring whether the planet's environment might once have supported life in the form of microscopic organisms.
Scientists agree Mars had water on its surface in ancient times, possibly as long as four billion years ago.
But precisely where, when and for how long there were lakes or oceans on Mars remains a mystery.
Scientists are also unsure whether, despite the presence of water, conditions were favourable or toxic to life.
Nothing could live on the radiation-cooked surface of Mars today, it is believed.
But some experts do not rule out the possibility of microbial bugs still living below the Martian surface.
After the successful landing, Nasa chief Charles Bolden said: "It's just absolutely incredible. It doesn't get any better than this."
President Barack Obama called the landing, which is eight years in the making, "an unprecedented feat of technology".
He tweeted: "I congratulate and thank all the men and women of Nasa who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality."
John Holden, from the US Office of Science and Technology Policy praised the "gutsy determination" of the team behind the mission.
"It will stand as an American point of pride far into the future," he said in a news conference after the launch, which saw the rover slice through the atmosphere of Mars.
It is the space agency's seventh landing on Earth's neighbour - many other attempts by the US and other countries to zip past, circle or set down on Mars have failed.
Scientists hope the project will help prepare for a possible human mission to the planet. Mr Obama has called for such a mission by the 2030s.
Curiosity was launched in November 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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what do you think?
I thought it said " Rower on course for spectacular mars landing" :)
Good luck Curiousity ! Find us proof of life
They are happy to spend £1,600,000,000 on a radio controlled car whirring about a planet 1/3rd the size of Earth with carbon dioxide gas for an atmosphere whilst leaving millions of Americans living in tents and queuing up at soup kitchens.
NASA have very kindly offered to explore the possibility of finding somewhere that might support/tolerate a constant source of negativity/moaning Adrian. Isn't that nice of them?
Oh? Brilliant! Now I can spend all day freezing at -50C and stare out a window at miles of rock-strewn desert with all the Martians saying, "We don't like Adrian, all he does is complain."
Whatever life Curiosity finds, Curiosity will nuke. It has a nuclear power-source that can be detonated as a nuclear bomb should it find life that we just don't like or understand.
Stops Marvin the Martian getting his grubby green hands on our technology and bringing it back in a huge battleship armed with antimatter weapons When we can just push a button and have done with them I've watched too much science fiction haven't I?
Have a word with David Icke, you should get on very well.
Icke is as mad as a sack full of badgers. That's what heading footballs does to you
So Adrian Human Beings are suppose to remain on earth for next billion years sitting on their backsides until the Sun burns us to a crisp or a large rock hurtles from space to destroy all life on Earth.
Why are they drilling into Mars, looking for carbon if the atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide? The ground is obviously full of carbon. I thought we had five billion years left in our solar system? Besides which all subatomic material which the atoms we are made of came from another solar system before this and probably other solar systems before that. We are made from the byproducts of other solar systems not just this one.
While it seems exciting curiosity looking for life on other planets, why go and mess around with other planets when humans use earth as a skip and the intolerance of our wide cultures that inhabit it , if there are civilisations out there , they I'm sure will if necessary will find us, until then humans need to respect and tolerate all life forms
Not exactly an overambitious statement.. Are you not impressed by the technology here ?
Human beings, well most of us, have a great capacity for learning. If we were to follow your "rules", we would still be rubbing two sticks together. What are you doing to stop people abusing our own planet, by the way ?
@ Edgar Yeh like I did say exciting stuff great technology, but we humans have still so much to learn from earth and our inhabitants, so much still untapped.
aa hadn't given any " rules" , but given that your reply to my comment is tinged with a seemingly pointed personal approach, just proves humans still have a lot to learn on tolerance and understanding
God speed curiosity. Good luck NASA
My best wishes to NASA and its staff ,also equally the same for CURIOSITY's safe landing, can't waite .
Gary W Beard
This is the only important thing mankind is doing. The future is out there.
Awesome nasa! Cnt wait til 2030 when we get men on the red planet!
I'm not impressed, however a mission to Venus to check-out the women - now you're talking.
What a tremendous achievement congratulations to you all at NASA. June U.K.
Complete waste of money.
yes, lets all stay in bed and hide under the covers.
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I assume its a Range Rover cos of the 4 wheel drive, but after that I really cant see what good its going to do.
Windows Live User
It will be a feat of high tech engineering when they manage to bring the scrap home instead of littering the place
Hoax, like man on the Moon in the late 60's and 70's.
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£1.6bn to find out whether there was life on another planet...........meanwhile, back in africa.........