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The latest and perhaps most successful mission to Mars is the robotic space probe, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). On August 6, 2012 at 1:32 EDT, MSL successfully landed a rover, Curiosity in Gale Crater on the surface of Mars. Costing about $2.6 billion, Curiosity is the most advanced Mars rover built by NASA and executed a very complicated landing to begin a two-year exploration mission of the Red Planet. (In December 2012, the two-year mission was extended indefinitely) Besides evaluating the conditions sustaining life, Curiosity will also study the atmosphere and soil of Mars. The rover carries about 10 highly advanced scientific instruments.

On landing, Curiosity transmitted some panoramic 3D images of the Martian surface. Over 3.2 million viewers watched the rover's descent via live streaming on the Internet. Curiosity's landing has made scientists confident of landing a 2000 pound car on the Martian surface. On August 13, 2012, NASA announced that Curiosity would be receiving a software upgrade to ensure smooth continuation of Mars surface operations. Curiosity also became a Social Media success. The rover's official Twitter account, @MarsCuriosity was followed by 971,000 Twitter users. Keeping up a healthy level of humor, Curiosity's Twitter feed also served to provide instant live updates about the landing. The photo uploads, announcements, and interactions from the account were handled by three NASA employees.

Through the rest of 2012, the rover, Curiosity has been relaying its finds about the Martian environment to avid followers on earth. Curiosity's success has been studied by researchers at NASA and the rover has inspired the design for another rover which is scheduled to be launched on a Mars mission in the year 2020.
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Last Updated on: October 1st, 2021