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EDIT: So they have done it!
Curiosity is now open for business on Mars. Humanity has successfully put a semi-autonomous robot jam-packed with high-res sensors and fancy software on a tiny rock fourteen light-minutes away. 
That's an impressive demonstration of the power of scientific predictions. I don't know how long is the NASA list of things that could go wrong but I bet it is astronomical. 
Now the coming weeks will be critical. Before going anywhere Curiosity will test its subsystems and deploy its paraphernalia. That's another gazillion things that could go wrong. But these people are good - think the Voyagers, Cassini, Apollo 11 - pretty much the best that we have.

 

 

Something very exciting is going to happen tonight. The SUV-sized NASA rover curiosity is to touch down on Mars at 1:30 AM (Florida time.) If it makes it in one piece to the surface - an incredible feat in itself - a set of fascinating experiments will begin with the robotic chemical lab that's on board.

-----------------------------------------

"After flying more than eight months and 350 million miles since launch, the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is now right on target to fly through the eye of the needle that is our target at the top of the Mars atmosphere," said Mission Manager Arthur Amador of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

 

This artist's scoreboard displays a fictional game between Mars and Earth, with Mars in the lead. It refers to the success rate of sending missions to Mars, both as orbiters and landers. Of the previous 39 missions targeted for Mars from around the world, 15 have been successes and 24 failures. For baseball fans, that's a batting average of .385. The United States has had 13 successes out of 18 attempts, or a "batting average" of .722. NASA's Curiosity rover, set to land on the Red Planet the evening of Aug. 5, 2012 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT), will mark the United States' 19th attempt to tackle the challenge of Mars, and the world's 40th attempt. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Via Science Daily

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Replies to This Discussion

Unusual form of locomotion! But interesting.

Not sure it solves any problem =)

NOT a popular mountain biking destination in Utah

NOT a popular mountain biking destination in Utah

Via: nasa.gov

For scale, an annotated version of the figure highlights a dark rock that is approximately the same size as Curiosity. The pointy mound in the center of the image, looming above the rover-sized rock, is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high.

NOT a sand dune in northern Africa

NOT a sand dune in northern Africa

Via: nasa.gov

This image taken by the Mast Camera (MastCam) on NASA's Curiosity rover highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed.

NOT a volcano in Hawaii

NOT a volcano in Hawaii

Via: nasa.gov

The gravelly area around Curiosity's landing site is visible in the foreground. Farther away, about a third of the way up from the bottom of the image, the terrain falls off into a depression (a swale). Beyond the swale, in the middle of the image, is the boulder-strewn, red-brown rim of a moderately-sized impact crater. Father off in the distance, there are dark dunes and then the layered rock at the base of Mount Sharp. Some haze obscures the view, but the top ridge, depicted in this image, is 10 miles (16.2 kilometers) away.

NOT a canyon park in Arizona

NOT a canyon park in Arizona

Via: nasa.gov

The 100-millimeter Mastcam has three times better resolution than Curiosity's 34-millimeter Mastcam, though it has a narrower field of view.

It produces pictures are so clear you can almost smell the air:

Like a hospital or scientific laboratory, Mars as we can imagine it today may be relatively sterile, harshly lit, and at the same time, occasionally peppered by odd colors, thinly pitched metal sounds and memorable chemical smells.

Great images!!

So little time on the surface but yet Curiosity is making astounding finds on Mars.  

September 27, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence -- images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels -- is the first of its kind.

Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream's flow. 

Get the full story and photos Curiosty @ NASA

I'm writing this for my Fix! :-)

This discovery highlights one possible future for our planet: when all the water'll be gone...

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