NASA's 1t Curiosity rover has successfully landed on the Mars, marking the end of a 36-week flight and the start of a new mission to investigate the planet.
According to NASA, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, which ferried Curiosity, successfully completed every aspect of what has been claimed to be the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final splitting of the bridle cords and flyaway manoeuvre of the rocket backpack.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that the wheels of Curiosity had paved the way for human footprints on Mars.
"Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars, or if the planet can sustain life in the future," Bolden said.
The $2.5bn mission will allow a rover to operate on Mars for much longer than earlier NASA missions and is aimed at investigating whether favourable conditions for microbial life ever existed on the planet.
Carrying some ten science instruments weighing 15 times as much as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the Curiosity is also equipped with a laser-firing instrument to check rocks elemental composition from a distance.
The rover will also deploy a drill and scoop to collect soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, followed by sieve and hand out of the collected samples into its suite of analytical laboratory instruments.
Being designed, developed and assembled at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission is managed by JPL for NASA's science mission directorate.
Image: The image of NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute captured by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's high-resolution imaging science experiment camera. Photo: courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona.