History was made millions of miles from Earth Sunday night. NASA scientists and engineers successfully landed the most advanced scientific rover ever created on the surface of Mars.
After more 8-months, traveling more than 350-million miles through space, Curiosity reached the atmosphere of the red planet. It was an unprecedented, high-risk entry and landing the NASA team called The 7 Minutes of Terror
Computers controlled the descent with no help from Earth and mission control, slowing the spacecraft from 13 thousand miles an hour - 17 times the speed of sound - to zero in that critical seven-minute window.
Animation played out what the data seemed to confirm and, just after 10:30 p.m. Pacific time, "Touchdown confirmed!"
The cheers spilled over and into tears for scientists and engineers in mission control, many who had spent their entire lives targeting this moment.
"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 on whether life ever existed there on Mars or if the planet can sustain life there in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
History defined by high-resolution images from the surface of the red planet just minutes after landing. First, a thumbnail picture of the surface and back wheel of the rover. Next, the shadowy outline of curiosity.
It is the most technologically advanced, robotic scientific laboratory ever launched. A 2.5 billion dollar, nuclear-powered vehicle the size of an SUV which now begins a two-year exploration and search for carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and any other elements necessary for life while breathing new life into the future of American space exploration.