NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars Sunday, becoming the largest rover ever to land on another planet and marking the beginning of an ambitious goal set by the United States to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030's.
The Curiosity rover - with no humans inside- landed on Mars the evening of August 5 PST (morning of August 6 EST) ending a 36-week flight. Few hours after, NASA released the first image of the Red Planet taken by the rover.
"[The landing] marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination," President Barack Obama said in a statement Sunday.
"This robotic laboratory will seek answers to one of humanity's oldest questions as it investigates whether conditions have favored development of microbial life on the Red Planet. The mission is a critical planetary science mission -- and a precursor to sending humans to the Red Planet in the 2030's, a goal set forth by President Obama," NASA said as it celebrating the landing.
The first image released by NASA is black and white and shows the rover's wheel on Mars' soil. The cameras are looking directly into the sun, so the top of the image is saturated. Some dust appears on the lens as well.
The Curiosity rover is expected to stay 2 years on the Red Planet to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support life forms.
The project received a $2.5 billion investment from the Government, and according to NASA, it shows that the agency remains on top of the space exploration despite the retirement of the Shuttle program last year.
NASA will continue to explore Mars. It will launch Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter next year.