Nasa’s Curiosity rover has successfully landed on Mars this morning.
The one-tonne mobile laboratory reached the conclusion of its mammoth 570-million-km journey at 06.32 BST (05:32 GMT), landing in a large crater near the planet’s equator.
The fruits of a ten-year project, Curiosity aims to help scientists explore whether or not Mars ever supported life.
Massive cheers greeted the news of Curiosity’s successful landing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The complicated landing had been dubbed the “seven minutes of terror” by Nasa, but the eventual event went off without a hitch. There were however 13 tense minutes following the landing while the team back on Earth waited for Curiosity to relay signals from the Odyssey satellite (which orbits Mars) back to mission control.
A two year mission is planned for the $2.5 billion project, with Curiosity loaded with gear that will be able to identify organic, carbon-rich compounds in the rock of Mars’s surface.
“We’re on Mars again, and it’s absolutely incredible,” said Nasa administrator Charles Bolden.
“It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Here below then is one of the first images from Curiosity. Exciting stuff!