The Rover Has Landed

NASA scientist Roger Wiens talks about the role Mars Rover Curiosity plays in the future of space exploration.

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[See Photos: NASA's Curiosity Lands On Mars.]

What do the findings from Curiosity tell us about the history of Mars?

The Curiosity was able to land on basically an ancient river area with rocks that were rounded by water. And we also found conglomerate rocks, which are cemented together by the water. So, it's clear that there was a river and water. And that really does mean that this landing area was a habitable area on Mars at one point, given that it had clean water on the surface.

What will surprise readers?

That we actually made it to Mars. The book takes you to [the Genesis] mission, which had a real simple landing system, and yet it crashed when it was supposed to come back to Earth. Having lived through that, it set me up for some paranoia about this very much more complicated technology that is needed to land on Mars, especially with a one-ton rover; it's like plopping a car down on Mars. Yet, it worked beautifully.

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