Mon August 6, 2012 3:09pm
NASA scientists and astronomers across the world are celebrating after successfully landing the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.
NASA successfully landed its $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover on the surface of the Red Planet, marking the most ambitious attempt to reach Mars in history.
"Touchdown confirmed," said a member of mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the room erupted in cheers. "We are wheels down on Mars. Oh, my God."
A dusty image of the rover's wheel on the surface, taken from a rear camera on the vehicle, confirmed the arrival of the car-sized rover and its sophisticated toolkit designed to hunt for signs that life once existed there.
A second image arrived within seconds, showing the shadow of the rover on Mars.
When the landing was announced after a tense, seven-minute process known as entry, descent and landing, the room filled with jubilation as the mission team cheered, exchanged hugs and chief scientists handed out Mars chocolate bars.
President Barack Obama described the feat as a singular source of American pride.
"The successful landing of Curiosity - the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet - marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future," he said in a statement.
"It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination."
Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator, echoed that sentiment and applauded all the nations who contributed to science experiments on board the rover.
"It is a huge day for the nation, it is a huge day for all of our partners who have something on Curiosity and it is a huge day for the American people," Bolden said.