Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Curiosity" Lands on Mars!

One of the first photos taken by Curiosity on Mars.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
I have always been very interested in all things pertaining to space. One of my favorite trips was to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. I loved learning and experience the wonders of space. There is something magical about the mysteries beyond our world.

This week Nasa has achieved another milestone. "Curiosity," the new and improved Mars rover is ready for adventure! The one-ton vehicle was sent to explore Mars for the next two years to examine organic compounds, which will inform us whether life on Mars is possible. It will also study the Red Planet's geology to discover the content and formation process of the surface, investigate any water sources, and determine the spectrum of radiation. This information will allow scientists to learn more about Mars specifically, but also  more about our solar system as a whole and the potential of expanding our population beyond the boundaries of Earth.

There are 17 cameras on the Curiosity Rover
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Stephen and I debated about staying up to watch "Curiosity" land on Mars. However, between his work and a little girl who is going to be up and ready to go no matter how long I sleep, we decided to go to bed. I enjoyed a fun space walk dream though.

"Curiosity" is appropriately called the Mars Science Laboratory because it is a roving lab. The rover can collect and analyze information on site with its many enhanced tools. She landed Monday morning at 1:32 am EDT ready for her mission. The 36-week journey to reach Mars was a huge success. Thanks to satellites and communication from Curiosity, we experience a time delay of less than 15 minutes. Curiosity has already transmitted pictures and information download to begin her mission.

An excited and relieved crew celebrate the landing of Curiosity.
Photo Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech
I loved waking up to all the news about Curiosity and the first pictures from Mars. Within a few hours Curiosity had already proven herself. I'm sure the scientists and engineers at NASA and specifically the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are very proud and excited about their accomplishment. I'm not connected or invested in the project and I am extremely excited about the possibilities this presents.

Curiosity represents exploration and hope that could expand and transform our thoughts about Mars and space in general. However, despite all of the scientific reasons and information it could give us, Curiosity is just really cool. I am excited as we learn more from Mars and what is beyond our world.

You can follow Curiosity on Twitter (#MSL) and NASA is a buzz with Curiosity Updates. Jet Propulsion Laboratory is also hosting a 3-D environment for the mission data called "Eyes on the Solar System." I also got a lot of information and interesting tid-bits thanks to Ask Science. Have I mentioned that this is all so cool?

What do you think? Have you or your kids found an interest in space? Did anyone stay up to watch the landing live?

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