Tuesday, August 7, 2012

After Mars touchdown, exploration starts in earnest

With NASA Mars rover Curiosity safely on surface, time to take inventory

Video: The Post’s Marc Kaufman, author of “Mars Landing 2012: Inside NASA’s Curiosity Mission,” explains the importance of the Curiosity mission, which is being hailed “the mission of the decade” by NASA’s chief scientist.
PASADENA, Calif. — With the rover Curiosity’s dramatic landing accomplished, testing of its communication and power systems began Monday as NASA worked to understand exactly where its vehicle had landed and how it withstood its 354 million-mile journey to Mars.

NASA scientists believe the one-ton rover landed on bedrock in the 3.5 billion-year-old Gale Crater and is facing the distant crater wall, believed to be about three miles high. A mountain in the crater will be the focus of the mission because its exposed rock faces are expected to provide clues about the area’s physical history and whether life’s building blocks ever existed there.

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