WASHINGTON, August 7, 2012 – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a stop-action video showing the last two minutes of the Mars Curiosity Rover’s descent to the surface of the red planet. This marks the first time a vehicle has recorded the actual moments up to landing on Mars, with a true video expected from NASA JPL in the coming days.
This is NASA’s seventh landing on Mars. The latest Martian landing added a much-needed boost to NASA, which has been under heavy debate whether there is funding for another Mars landing this decade. Curiosity, with a price tag of $2.5 billion, is the most expensive mission to date for which scientists hope will pay off in the form of discoveries that can shape the Martian planet’s history and determine if life ever existed.
Moments after landing, the first black-and-white pictures were received at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory followed by the small, thumbnail color photos that were used to make up the video. Over the next several days, more detailed color photos will be transmitted back to earth, highlighting the exact landing location and surrounding terrain.
After several weeks of health checkups, the six-wheel rover will take its first drive. Over the next two years, Curiosity will drive over to a mountain rising from the crater floor, drill and sample rocks, and scoop up rust-tinted soil, in an effort to see if the region ever had the right environment for microscopic organisms to thrive.
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