Gary: Despite NASA’s space shuttles going into retirement, curiosity about life on Mars continues to excite scientists. So much so, that yesterday they launched a $2.5 billion rover named Curiosity toward the red planet.
“We’re very pleased; everything is operating the way it should be.”
Gary: Curiosity weighs about a thousand pounds and is powered by a nuclear reactor. It is embarking on a 354 million mile journey. That is like driving from Washington, D.C. to L.A. 132,684 times!
Previous Mars rovers bounced to the surface inside balloons. But Curiosity is too heavy for that, so it will be lowered to the surface on cables.
NASA hasn’t tried landing something this large and complex since the lunar modules that put men on the moon. And that has NASA’s chief engineer nervous.
“Its maiden voyage, its maiden flight, is actually the flight. It must work. There are no dress rehearsals. It has to work the first time.”
Gary: Evidence of water on Mars has already been found, and now NASA wants to look at the chemichals in rocks to see if past conditions were ever able to support life.
Curiosity was built sturdy so it could work for two years. But if it is anything like its smaller cousins who went past their due dates, Curiosity may remain curious for a lot longer than that.
Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.