It’s not every day you wake up and the first thing you get to see is an image sent from another planet. Well, today is obviously not like every other day. Just after 5:30 GMT a NASA rover called Curiosity landed on the Mars and started to send images to its home planet.
Curiosity measures 3 m (9.8 ft) in length, and weighs 900 kg (2,000 lb). It is much larger than its predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rovers. Here are the higlights of the mission.
This new NASA mission is called Mars Science Laboratory and its aim is “to search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favourable for life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life.”
The mission started last year, when Curiosity left the Earth on 26th November. It arrived after a 36-week flight and its true mission will last of one Martian year, 687 Earth days, and started when it landed on Mars.
Curiosity was designed to assess the planet's habitability and its mission will investigate Martian climate and geology. The surface operations will be conducted in the Gale Crater where it landed. Its arm can extend up to 2 meters (7 feet) and it has a drill and a sieve to obtain samples to analyse.
This rover is a true mobile scientific lab and for its research it is equipped with 80 kg (180 lb) of scientific instruments, one of which is the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Powder Diffraction Instrument (CheMin). This definitive mineralogy instrument will identify and quantify the minerals present in rocks and soil.
Through its Twitter account Curiosity itself "declared" that its business cards should say it is a “robot chemist" and as this space adventure has a lot to do with chemistry we will be following its work closely. Well, from quite a distance, but still with great interest!