We now pause from reporting on Ryan Lochte’s abs and Michael Phelps’ girlfriend Megan Rossee to bring you some important news that should make any American proud:
Curiosity, NASA’s long-touted plutonium-powered rover, made a picture perfect landing on Mars today and etched its name in space exploration history.
Earlier Monday, the agency released a photograph taken by its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the rover still encased in the descent capsule.
Shortly after, it touched down on the planet’s surface.
During the early hours of the morning, the rover, about the size of a small car, was lowered at the end of 25-foot-long cables into a Martian crater.
Over the years, NASA’s orbiter taken about 120 photographs of the crater in preparation for the rover, with left Earth more than eight months ago.
“But I really think this is the coolest one,” Sarah Milkovich, a NASA scientist who works with the orbiter camera, said during a news conference.
“What’s amazing about it is the miracle of this engineering,” said John P. Grotzinger, the scientist who spearheaded the groundbreaking project.
The rover ushers in a new era of exploration that could turn up evidence that Mars once boasted the ingredients for life – or might even still.
NASA and administration officials were also quick to laud the mission amid criticism that the agency has become a bureaucracy long past its prime.
“If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space,“ John P. Holdren, the president’s science adviser, said. “There’s a one-ton, automobile-size piece of American ingenuity, and it’s sitting on the surface of Mars right now.”