Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: NASA`s Curiosity Mars rover is celebrating its one-year anniversary on the Martian surface on Tuesday. Successful landing of Curiosity rover on the Red Planet on 6 August 2012 (or 5 August if you were on Pacific Standard Time) attracted attention of millions of people worldwide.
The world wondered whether Curiosity would nail its landing, which involved an acrobatic plunge through the thin atmosphere that ended with it being gently lowered to the ground with cables.
After seven terrifying minutes, a voice echoed through mission control at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Touchdown confirmed," said engineer Allen Chen. "We`re safe on Mars."
Scientists and engineers clad in matching sky-blue polo shirts erupted in cheers. Some were so excited that they overshot their high-fives. Curiosity became a pop sensation.
Not only it landed successfully, Curiosity rover has also provided NASA with more than 190 gigabits of data; returned more than 36,700 full images and 35,000 thumbnail images; fired more than 75,000 laser shots to investigate the composition of targets; collected and analyzed sample material from two rocks; and driven more than one mile (1.6 kilometers).
Once the euphoria of landing wore off, the six-wheel, nuclear-powered rover went to work, spending two months testing its instruments and systems. The health checks took longer than expected because Curiosity was a complex machine.
To celebrate the landing anniversary, engineers commanded one of Curiosity`s instruments to play "Happy Birthday" as the rover took a break from driving.
(With Agencies inputs)