NASA's Mars Curiosity rover lands safely
6th Aug 2012 | 11:20
Billion dollar nuclear-powered rover begins search for life
NASA's Curiosity rover has finally touched down on Mars after a nail-biting ending to the journey which saw the rover use for the first time, the world's largest supersonic parachute, the world's largest heatshield and a revolutionary new landing system that had never been tested in space.
Despite these overwhelming odds the $1 billion rover entered the Martian atmosphere at around 13,200 mph where the module was slowed before coming to a standstil several meters above the ground.
There the module hovers used thrusters to hover above the ground and lower Curiosity onto the ground using a revolutionary landing crane. Not only does this allow NASA to land much heavier objects but also gives better landing accuracy over the conventional airbag landing system.
Now on the planet Curiosity will use its nuclear battery to spend the next two years exploring the crater in which it finds itself searching for evidence that at some stage Mars was capable of supporting life.