Let the Exploration of Mars Begin

Curiosity has landed, and the engineers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are ecstatic.  if you don’t believe me, watch the video of how the engineers reacted after it was confirmed that the rover was safely on the ground.  Why are these people so excited? When you spend $2.6 billion, you want your project to succeed.  There was a very real chance that all the planning was going to result in utter failure.  The “seven minutes of terror” signified the fact that there would be a short period of time where all the programming and automation just had to work, and no amount of human effort would be able to correct certain equipment failures.  If something went wrong, Curiosity would be a major disappointment.  Thankfully, all went well with the landing. 

An amazing landing

When you watch the video animation of the landing, it looks like something out a science-fiction movie.  It isn’t hard for people to have an over-simplified view on how easy it is to land on another planet.  The reality is that landing on Mars was an extremely complex endeavor due to atmosphere, terrain and the limits of the equipment.  In addition, engineers could never accurately test the entire mission because there is no place on Earth that can truly emulate Mars.   

Time to explore

Now, Curiosity will spend time exploring the interesting terrain of Mars.  The rover will test the surface, and explore the area around the landing area.  There will be a variety of tests, and JPL will be getting back some very interesting pictures.  Scientists will attempt to ascertain whether Mars may have at one point been a place that could have sustained some form of life.  This will include a search for water, which is still viewed as a necessarily building block for life. 

Space is still cool

The mission is extremely intriguing, and it has reminded humanity that the universe is still very large and unexplored.  Since the early days of space exploration, people have looked up into the sky and wondered if there was something else out there.  Now, Curiosity will work to answer some of the questions that have challenged scientists for so long.  Hopefully, Curiosity will continue to perform as designed so that this massive investment will result in invaluable scientific knowledge.