Mars Rover Landing an 'Unprecedented Feat of Technology'
The aptly named Mars rover, Curiosity, made history when it safely landed on the planet after nearly eight months in space.
The rover made contact with scientists on Earth Sunday night and is part of a research mission geared towards seeking out evidence that would confirm if the red planet ever contained an environment hospitable to produce life.
"I can't believe this. This is unbelievable," said Allen Chen, deputy head of the rover's descent and landing team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles, according to Reuters.
The mission began last Nov. 26 when the rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida and was put on course to travel through space for more than eight months, covering more than 352 million miles.
NASA put the official landing time of Curiosity, which is regarded as the first astrobiological laboratory to ever land on another planet, at 10:32 p.m. Pacific time.
"It's an enormous step forward in planetary exploration. Nobody has ever done anything like this," John Holdren, senior science advisor to President Obama, told Reuters. "It was an incredible performance."
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The $2.5 billion project also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, is the first astrobiology mission for NASA since the 1970s, when the space agency sent the Viking probes into space.
There have been preliminary pictures sent from the rover already, but other photos of the surface of Mars are expected to arrive by Aug. 7.
The pictures will be produced using the Mars Hand Lens Imager, which is one of five instruments on the rover's robotic arm designed to take close-up pictures of rocks and soil to better analyze their composition.
President Obama was eager to highlight the importance of such an accomplishment stating that it will long be remembered as an important milestone in space exploration.
The president described the event as "an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future."