NASA's most advanced scientific payload `Curiosity' has landed on the Mars, starting a two-year search for evidence whether the Red Planet has the basic elements necessary for life forms to evolve.
|One of the first images beamed back by Curiosity shows the shadow cast by the rover on the Mars surface|
The one-ton rover, Curiosity, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars on Sunday ending a 36-week flight and started beaming images of investigations straight away.
The robotic lab sailed 352 million miles (566 million km), through space for more than 32 weeks before piercing Mars' atmosphere at 13,000 miles (20,921 km) per hour before starting its descent.
"I can't believe this. This is unbelievable," said Allen Chen, deputy leader of the rover's descent and landing team, as the first three pictures of the rocky terrain, one of them showing a wheel of the vehicle, arrived at mission control.
The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack, said a NASA release.
"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA administrator Charles Bolden. "This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030's, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal."