On the evening of August 5 PDT (morning of August 6 EDT), 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover, a 1-ton car-size robotic exploration vehicle, successfully landed on the surface of the planet Mars, after an 8.5-month journey of about 352 million miles. Join the team at mission control (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology) for the nail-biting final moments of its journey, and an animation of the landing.
How Curiosity Got to Mars
Watch the key events of NASA’s successful mission to Mars, which launched November 26, 2011. This 11-minute animation video was created before the Curiosity rover had landed safely on Mars in August 2012.
How to Get to Mars: The First Rovers
Spirit, MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover – A), is a small robotic rover that was active on Mars from 2004 to 2010. It landed successfully on Mars on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin, Opportunity (MER-B), landed on the other side of the planet. On May 1, 2009 (5 years, 3 months, 27 Earth days after landing; 21.6 times the planned mission duration), Spirit became stuck in soft soil. The rover continued in a stationary science platform role until communication with Spirit stopped on March 22, 2010. JPL continued to attempt to regain contact until May 24, 2011, when NASA announced that efforts to communicate with the unresponsive rover had ended. The following video, based on this original mission to Mars, is a clip from the IMAX movie “Roving Mars” made in 2006.
Spacecraft have studied the Martian surface for decades. The images in the following video are from “Mars Landscapes,” a virtual exhibit that commemorates the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Gale Crater on August 5, 2012, and features images sent back by surface rovers and other spacecraft from NASA and the European Space Agency. The brilliant, but false, colors in many of these images represent temperature differences reflecting or radiating from surface material.
Video, Photo, and Text Credits: NASA/MSFC/JPL