Our View: Intense Curiosity
Wednesday , August 08, 2012 - 11:10 AM
We are thrilled at NASA’s Mars science rover Curiosity, which managed to make a daring descent through the sky into a crater on Mars, where it will search for elements and ingredients for life that may have existed on the planet.
It’s evidence that we’re still moving in the right direction in our efforts to explore and better understand the vast universe. Everything that could have gone right, went right on Sunday night.
It was a big risk to maneuver the craft through its seven-minute descent, described as the most difficult feat ever in space. A big parachute with a rocket pack took the rover to the surface. Frankly, many thought that the task was too difficult.
There was joy and spontaneous applause from mission controllers when they learned the descent was a success and the first images from the Red Planet’s surface were retrieved.
It took eight-plus months for the robotic lab to travel 352 million miles through space at 13,000 miles per hour. Seventy-nine pyrotechnic detonations had to be completed perfectly for the mission to succeed. Had one failed, the entire mission would have failed. We invite readers to ponder the wonder of such an achievement. NASA may have been reeling from losing the space shuttle but we still have the brains and determination to explore deep into our universe.
Before the rover Curiosity returns to its task, there will be several weeks of tests to make sure it’s in great condition before its two-year mission to explore the surface. Its chief goal is to determine whether ingredients that provided life once existed on Mars. The rover comes with a laser gun that can create sparks against rocks that can analyze the mineral’s contents.
Learning more about our universe is an inherent desire that should not be suppressed. We’re grateful for NASA for making it possible.