Posted January 16, 2018 08:29:03 Google News is a free service of Google Inc. That means you can search for the news in the top right corner of any page or browse stories from across the world.
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The space agency’s unmanned lander Curiosity has just lifted off on a flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, to the California Test Site, a sprawling research facility near the Pacific Ocean.
The landing, which was the first of two planned this month, is intended to test the rover’s autonomous system to help it navigate the Martian surface.
The mission, which is scheduled to end in early 2019, will test the technology needed to get Curiosity safely to Mars.
The agency is hoping to have the rover safely on the Red Planet before the end of the decade.NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is pictured on the International Space Station.NASA/JPL-Caltech/NASALanderLanders were designed to be autonomous and capable of making decisions about where to go, how long to stay, and how to carry out the tasks it needs to do.
The first rover to be flown on the NASA Mars 2020 mission, dubbed MRO-100, is expected to land on the surface of the Red Rock formation, which sits at the heart of the Gale Crater on Mars.
The Mars 2020 landing is the first to include robotic rovers, as NASA and the private spaceflight companies have been exploring ways to land vehicles on Mars in the years since NASA’s Viking 1 probe landed there in 1972.
The rover’s lander has been named Curiosity, after a Martian planet that is named after the Martian lander, which launched in 1978.
The first mission to land a rover on another planet was the 1969 Apollo 12 landing, where a Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft landed on the moon.NASA and SpaceX, a SpaceX-owned company, have been developing autonomous landers for NASA’s Mars rover program, with the goal of landing on the planet within the next five years.
The agency is also working to get a lander in orbit around Mars by 2020.
The robotic landers are expected to be the most capable of the robotic lander designs NASA has developed in the last 20 years.
For NASA, the Mars 2020 lander is a crucial step toward Mars exploration and ultimately humans becoming permanent residents on the red planet.NASA hopes to use the landers to study Mars, explore potential Martian environments, and eventually develop a plan to send humans to the red giant.