Years of work and a complex landing procedure have resulted in a massive success on 6 August at 7:32h French time. Landed as planned within the Gale crater, this 900 kg rover is carrying 10 experiments, 2 of which are French.
Obvious delight and enthusiasm heralding the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. From left to right: John Grunsfeld (Associate Administrator of NASA), Charles Elachi (Director of the JPL), Pete Theisinger (Director of Engineering at the JPL and Manager of the MSL), Richard Cook (Manager of the JPL), Adam Steltzner (EDL engineer - Entry Descent Landing) and John Grotzinger (Project Scientist at the MSL). Credit: Olivier Sanguy / Enjoy Space
At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the 5 August 2012 promised to be a milestone in space exploration but it started with a morning that was almost too quiet... Bosses at the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) program were showing their absolute trust in the landing system, despite its complexities while stressing that it wasn't over yet and that a failure was still possible. However, the astronaut John Grunsfeld, who was part of the last space shuttle mission to Hubble and is now NASA's Associate Administrator responsible for Science, declared that it was the "calm before the storm", highlighting that the 5 August was the 82nd birthday of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, before adding enthusiastically that they would land Curiosity as a present to him! A promise kept, since at 22:32h Californian time (07:32h in France), the signal confirming the arrival of the rover on Mars sparked the storm mentioned by John Grunsfeld with applause, hugs, scenes of jubilation and even tears of joy. For the rover and the scientists however, the adventure has only just begun. Many experienced this historic moment thanks to the live feed organised by the Cité de l'espace (see the recording below).
A live feed in partnership with CNES (the French space agency) and with the involvement of the IRAP (Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology), the OMP (Midi-Pyrenees Observatory) and the LATMOS (Atmospheres, Environments and Space Observations Laboratory).
One of the first images sent by Curiosity after its landing. On the right, one of the rover's 6 wheels can be seen. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
On Monday 6 August the Mars rover Curiosity should land on the red planet. From today Enjoy Space and Cité de l’Espace are offering you the chance to follow this event on Twitter, and then by video, direct from the NASA JPL in California!
This is the mythical rocket par excellence, the one that launched Sputnik, the first satellite and Gagarin, the first man in space. The CSG, Guiana Space Centre, is now one of its launch bases: a historic achievement.