NASA's Mars rover Curiosity successfully landed on the Red Planet late Sunday night (Aug. 5), marking a historic moment in the history of robotic Mars exploration.
The Curiosity rover touched down at 10:32 p.m. PDT Sunday, Aug. 5 (1:32 a.m. EDT; 0532 GMT Monday, Aug. 6), after a harrowing journey through the Martian atmosphere. The rover will now spend roughly two years investigating whether Mars has, or ever had, a suitable environment to host microbial life.
As news of Curiosity's successful landing spreads, here are some reactions from space exploration supporters, space industry officials, lawmakers and President Barack Obama.
Barack Obama, President of the United States (via Twitter)
Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.
I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality.
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail 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. This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030s, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal. [1st Photos of Mars by Curiosity Rover (Gallery)]
Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut (via Twitter)
@marscuriosity has successfully landed on Mars. I'm at JPL on this momentous evening. This is one of many stepping stones to manned missions
Adam Schiff, Representative (D-California)
The landing of Curiosity is a remarkable engineering achievement and the culmination of nearly a decade of work by thousands of people here and around the world. In the coming weeks and months, Curiosity will answer many of the vital questions about Mars’ past and whether it ever had conditions suitable for life. But tonight we celebrate the genius of humankind.
This success must reinvigorate our efforts to restore funding for planetary science and future Mars missions. While we have restored some of the funding –- almost $100 million so far –- much work remains to return the Mars Program to health. Without the certainty of future missions and support, we will find it impossible to maintain the most specialized workforce on Earth –- the brilliant engineers and scientists who made this mission possible.
Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
It was a great drama that was played. It felt like an adventure movie, but I kept telling myself this is real, what's happening. What a fantastic demonstration of what our nation and our agency can do.
I could only think of the words of Teddy Roosevelt as I was sitting there. 'It is far better to dare mighty things even though we might fail than to stay in the twilight that knows neither victory, nor defeat.' The team brought us victory today.
Bobby Braun, former NASA chief technologist (via Twitter)
I am in awe of the #MSL team. They epitomize all that is right about NASA –- an agency whose pursuit of bold challenges inspires us all.
Chris Carberry, executive director of Explore Mars
This is truly an historic occasion. We now have a chance to determine whether Mars was ever capable of sustaining life.
Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Curiosity is NASA's next great explorer, a technological wonder that will bring Mars into laboratories and living rooms across the country. Thousands of people designed, developed, built and delivered Curiosity, and they all deserve our acclaim. Congratulations, in particular, to the scientists and engineers of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who have led their team to such an inspiring achievement.
Dianna Sosa, ATK vice president of engineering services
We are extremely proud to have played a role in this incredible achievement for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, two of our long-standing customers. Our employees dedicated years of planning and preparation to ensure mission success for this newest voyage of exploration on Mars. We congratulate the NASA team for a successful landing and look forward to the key scientific findings that will help determine the potential for life on Mars.
Artemis Westenberg, president of Explore Mars
Curiosity builds the way for human explorers by 2030. With her instruments she already determined while en route to Mars how much radiation really reaches inside a capsule traveling to Mars. It turns out that astronauts sailing to Mars in a spacecraft will be much better protected against radiation than was previously thought.
Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet vice president of space and launch systems
Aerojet joins NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in congratulating the MSL team on tonight's historic landing. Aerojet thrusters brought Viking 1 and 2 and the Phoenix Mars Lander to safe arrivals on Mars and we were confident that our MSL thrusters would once again help deliver success.