The American spacecraft rover aptly named Curiosity is scheduled to land on the red planet Mars on August 6, 2012 at around 11am IST. NASA the US space agency, has planned to land the rover at one of the lowest points on Mars. It is going to land inside the Gale Crater, south of the equator, a 96 mile wide bowl created by a meteor more than 3.5 billion years ago.
The $2.5 billion mission is nearing the end of its travel from earth which began on November 26,2011. It is NASA's most ambitious and costliest Mars mission till date. Dueto budgetory constraints it may not be possible for NASA to launch another mission to Mars for many years.
At this moment the spacecraft is moving towards Mars at a speed of 12,874.8 km per hour. As it nears the red planet , the pull of gravity will accelerate it to a speed of 20,921.5 km per hour. The rover will land within seven minutes of hitting the top of the Maritian atmosphere. A series of complicated maneouvers will be executed by the spacecraft to ensure a safe landing to place the rover on the surface. Scientists at NASA will come to know only after 14 minutes as to whether Curiosity has safely landed on the red planet.
Of the 44 missions sent to Mars only one third have succeeded. It is thus a
The main aim of the mission is to find answer to the question, was there ever life on Mars? The Curiosity is packed with ingenious instruments to find clues to answer this question. It will try to find for existence of water and building blocks of Mars matter. Previous spacecrafts have thrown up convincing evidence that millions of years ago water did indeed flow on Mars.
The nuclear powered Curiosity is programmed to last for at least two years. NASA's expectations are sky or mars high from this mision. It is till date the most risky and the most costly mission undertaken to Mars.
NASA is going to beam live the landing of Curiosity . A live coverage of the landing will be provided by NASA on the TOSHIBA screen on the main jumbotron in Times Square, New York. It can be watched by spectators from the adjoining streets. It will truely be a marvel of scientific achievment to watch an event taking place millions of kilometers away in space live on earth.
Here is wishing the Mars mission all the best for its success.