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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.
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.
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.
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.