Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds

In the midst of the 2012 London Olympics, humankind just got a gold medal in the 560 billion metres*.

My Curiosty Landing geekstation
I got up at 6:00 this morning so as not to miss the landing of the latest Mars rover, Curiosity, at approximately 6:30. Well, the actual landing took place fourteen minutes earlier but, due to the distance it has travelled, that's how long it took the message to get back to Earth.

After a wonderfully science-fiction-y seven minute landing sequence, Curiosity touched down with a textbook landing, joining Vikings 1 and 2, Sojourner, Phoenix, Spirit, Opportunity and bits of Beagle 2 on our closest neighbouring planet with the goal of Doing Science**.

First image from Curiosity
via Wikimedia Commons
Curiosity will be trundling along at a snail's pace using its various tools and instruments to collect data that will be used to develop a greater understanding of Mars's geological and atmospheric history with the hope of achieving its primary goal of determining whether Mars may have been able to support life at any time in its past (and, hopefully, whether or not it actually did). A secondary goal is to use the information gathered about Mars's current climate and geology to inform the planning stages of a manned mission to Mars. With this in mind, the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity's ride) has been measuring radiation levels (as well as other stuff) throughout its eight-and-a-bit month journey. This is exciting stuff***.

You can see the first images from Curiosty at JPL's MSL homepage, here.

And before I go, just tweeted by @Dr_Lucie is a list of everything currently on Mars****:

See where spacecraft from Earth have landed on Mars, in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

* Not mine, unfortunately: @Paul_Cornell
** A most worthy cause.
*** Though if you're here I hardly need to tell you that.
**** Everything, that is, that was sent by us...


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