MARS stories

 
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory couldn't have hoped for a more perfect Mars landing for Curiosity. The complex descent went off without a hitch, and not only did Curiosity start sending postcards from Mars immediately, but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had a surprise for the world, too.
 
It's not often you get to sit and watch history being made, but that's what happened tonight. Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars, inside Gale Crater, with the most complicated and sophisticated landing system ever sent to the red planet. The mission's complexity has been likened to Apollo 11's landing on the Moon in 1969.
 
Mars is an alien place. In some ways, it's a lot like Earth: there are processes (both geologic and atmospheric) that are continually reshaping the Martian surface. These processes are much, much different on Mars, however, leading to landscapes unlike anything you've ever seen.
 
Hot on the heels of China's announcement of its plan to launch a lunar rover in 2013 comes this news from India: in 2013, it'll be launching a mission of its own, not to the Moon, but all the way to Mars. Ambitious, to be sure, but India has even bigger plans in the works.
 
Mars is the new Moon. Any ol' space program can hit up the Moon these days, but the real prize lies with getting a little red sand on your boots. Will that day ever come? Will Wright, creator of games such as SimCity, The Sims and recently Spore, envisions "Marstown," a settlement 8,000 strong in the year 2047.
 
Before Wernher von Braun designed the mammoth Saturn V rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the Moon, the German rocket scientist nursed a dream to see men travel to Mars. In the 1940s, he started studying different Mars missions that were ahead of their time but feasible with the technology and techniques he had at his disposal at the time.
 
NASA is all-systems-go to land its 2,000 pound Curiosity rover on the Red Planet this coming Monday. Want a refresher of what it's all about? NASA has prepared a video covering the Mars Science Lab's approach, landing and operations on the Martian surface, and got none other than William James T. Shatner Kirk to tell you all about it.

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