Millennium Post

Hurray to curiosity

Curiosity travelled 154 million miles from its home on Earth to make a smart landing on what is christened the Gail Crater through ‘seven minutes of terror’, blazing through the pink skies of the Red Planet. Earth’s smaller and desert-like neighbour, cold at heart and largely inhospitable to life due to its low temperatures and harsh weather conditions, manages to attract huge attention from earthlings. That, perhaps, explains why Mars is visited again and again.

This time the planet has welcomed the probe on its surface. Curiosity is a technological feat. It is not only heavier and much more sophisticated than other recent NASA missions to Mars, but is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and apparatus that can significantly add to our knowledge of Mars. It can send back pictures of Mars’ surface and has a specially build apparatus that can analyse materials that can  provide clues to Mars’ wet history. Considered the biggest space mission of this decade and at the cost of a whopping 2.5 billion dollars, NASA has staked much on Curiosity. On its success will depend NASA’s dominance over missions to Mars, now threatened by an increasingly aggressive European Space Mission that has joined hands with the Russians for launching more research stations to Mars. Even India’s ISRO is planning to send an orbiter to Mars soon. It is the seventh Mars landing of a NASA mission and the biggest since Viking, its first major success story. Many other attempts have failed, mostly at the terminal stage in which the Marsian atmosphere proves a fatal deterrent to easy and successful landing. Curiosity has taken care of that part with élan. Now, it can launch itself on its job. And it has. It is, however, not equipped to look for microorganisms or other microscopic life forms. For that, another mission has to be prepared depending on the results Curiosity throws up in the next two years. Incidentally, Curiosity joins Opportunity, which is still roving around the Martian ‘South Pole’  eight years after it was launched. If Curiosity has the longevity of Opportunity, then it can surely deliver results that will be unmatched: as much for NASA, as much for the entire mankind. Till then, the search must go on, and, what else but curiosity, which has propelled the greatest of human journeys, is best suited to drive the search.
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