A NASA rover plunged through the atmosphere of Mars and bounced down on its rocky surface last night, beginning a mission to roam the red planet seeking evidence it was once suitable for life.
A cheer went up at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory after signals showed the spacecraft had reached Mars. The Spirit rover signalled Earth after landing.
Spirit appeared on track to make a "bull's-eye" landing within a cigar-shaped ellipse inside Gusev Crater, just south of the Martian equator, navigation team chief Louis D'Amario said.
"This is essentially perfect navigation. We couldn't have possibly hoped to do better," he said.
Previously, about two of every three attempts to land craft on Mars have failed.
The latest apparent failure was the British Beagle 2 lander, which has not been heard from since it was to have set down on Mars Dec. 25.
The Beagle 2 was actually launched by the European Space Agency.
Sunday, January 04, 2004
WANNA BET THE EUROPEANS WILL HATE US FOR THIS TOO?