Are we alone? Nasa's Mars rover aims to find out
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Are we alone? Or was there life on another planet? Nasa's US$2.5 billion dream machine, the Mars Science Laboratory, aims to take the first steps toward finding out when it nears Mars' surface on Monday.
The planet is Earth's closest neighbour, and scientists have found signs of water there, hinting that some form of life was once likely, even though Mars is now a dry place with a thin atmosphere, extreme winters and dust storms.
Nasa said it will find out if its Mars Science Laboratory and rover, Curiosity - designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life and send back data to prepare for a future human mission - landed safely at 1.31am Eastern time (1.01pm, Singapore time) on Monday.
That will be about 14 minutes after the touchdown actually happens due to the time it takes for spacecraft signals to travel from Mars to Earth.