This past weekend the world mourned the passing of the astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human being to set foot on the moon during the eponymous Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. Now NASA appears to be setting its sights on sending a human space mission to alight on Mars – and it could be happening sooner than you think.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has just broadcast a message via the unmanned rover Curiosity. It landed on Mars on 6 August last to carry out scientific exploration on the Gale Crater area of the Red Planet over the next two years.
The message from Bolden was sent to the rover from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California before being blasted back to Earth via Curiosity’s speakers.
Here’s a snippet of Bolden’s mesage: "Hello. This is Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator, speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity Rover, which is now on the surface of Mars."
He went on to praise NASA employees as well as commercial and government partners around the world for helping achieve the Curiosity mission.
And, as to the next step – a human mission to Mars – Bolden had this to say: "Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future."
Check out the broadcast in full here:
View of base of Mount Sharp on Mars – the eventual destination for the Curiosity rover
Curiosity has also sent back the latest images taken on Mars, including this one that shows the base of Mount Sharp. The rover is heading here to carry out its scientific experiments. Credit: NASA