NASA Celebrates Successful Curiosity Landing on Mars

Curiosity’s shadow on Mars, the first photo returned after the landing on Sunday night. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.


Awesome Photos From Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
A closeup of Curiosity descending under its parachute as seen from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)
his is one of the first images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT). (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
The green diamond shows approximately where NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars, a region about 2 kilometers northeast of its target in the center of the estimated landing region (blue ellipse). The location of the diamond is based on Earth-based navigation data taken prior to Curiosity’s entry into the Martian atmosphere, as well as data taken by the rover’s navigation instruments during descent. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., celebrate the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on the Red Planet. The rover touched down on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT). (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Ho Ho No! ‘Tis the Season to be Bummed….

A Titan rocket explodes just after liftoff. (Credit: USAF)
A bad day for the Titan rocket. (Credit: USAF)

It’s only two days after Christmas, but the holiday cheer that usually extends through New Year’s Day seems to have worn off for some pundits. Some are looking back in horror, others ahead with trepidation…

Lunar scientist Paul Spudis says good riddance to the year in space in Annus Horribilis: Space in 2011. So, what went wrong? The space shuttle program ended, the commercial crew effort appears doomed, NASA’s new mission statement lacks any actual missions, the Space Launch System is a bloated mess, the James Webb telescope is sucking the life out of the science budget, and John Marburger passed away.

Gee, that does sound bad. Now, I’m seriously depressed…and I was pretty happy until just now.


NASA Prepares to Launch Mars Science Lab Curiosity

NASA PR — It’s launch week for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled for liftoff Nov. 26 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The one hour and 43 minute launch window opens at 10:02 a.m. EST. The MSL spacecraft, including the rover Curiosity, is sealed within the protective payload fairing atop the rocket, which is inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Launch day weather is predicted to be favorable, with only a 30 percent chance of conditions prohibiting liftoff.

SpaceX’s Dragon, Astrobotic’s Rover Receive PopSci’s Best of What’s New Awards

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, Astrobotic’s privately funded lunar rover, and NASA’s Curiosity, Dawn and MESSENGER missions have made Popular Science’s Best of What’s New 2011 list.

PopSci singled out Dragon for the Grand Award in the Aviation & Space category. The magazine calls the vehicle “the future of American spaceflight,” a ship that will eventually fly cargo and crews to the International Space Station, the moon and Mars.


‘Curiosity,’ Meet Clara

Clara Ma signs Curiosity in the JPL clean room. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Clara Ma signs Curiosity in the JPL clean room. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Twelve-year-old Clara Ma flew from Kansas to JPL to meet and sign the next rover that will zoom millions of miles to Mars. The trip is Clara’s prize for winning an essay contest in which she named the rover “Curiosity.”