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Posted by guest on 6th August 2012 at 12:02 PM
Video: Salford MediaCityUK sees in history with Mars landing

By Jamie Carruthers

Over a hundred people saw in history this morning as NASA's Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars.

After a 352 million mile journey the mobile science lab hit the red planet's atmosphere at 13,200mph, slowing to touch down near the equator.

Ecstatic NASA scientists wooped and hi-fived Salford's Ceremonial Mayor as the rover's epic eight-month journey to the red planet was completed.

Curious space-fans arrived to the BBC Big Screen at the MediaCityUK piazza to watch the landing from as early as 5.30am, with a live link to NASA mission control in Flintridge, California.

"I didn't expect to be moved by the landing. It was easy to get swept up in the excitement, what a great moment!" says local PhD student, Tom Sharp.

The first grainy, black and white images from Mars were beamed through direct to Salford as the one-tonne rover touched down on the fourth planet from the sun.

"While the later images will be more aesthetically pleasing this image represents a major scientific breakthrough," said NASA EDGE host Blair Allen.

Dr Louis Mayo said the landing was "unbelievable", while other NASA personnel likened the momentous event to Olympics gymnastics. One even giving the landing a "perfect 10".

Councillor Steve Coen, who organised for the eight-strong team to come to Salford, said: "This is about connecting our city to other places, so in future we will be working with NASA with our schools and people in the city to learn about astro-physics, astronomy and technology."

Video: NASA head to Ordsall primary school to teach Primrose Hill about Mars

"This is the kind of stuff that sci-fi movies are made of," said NASA EDGE team member Franklin Fitzgerald while explaining the path that the rover took to reach its destination.

The Curiosity rover contains an entire science lab and is powered by a plutonium fuel cell which will last one Martian year, or two Earth years.

With an average surface temperature of minus 63 degrees that can drop to as low as minus 140 degrees, it would be very difficult for life as we know it to be supported on the barren, desert-like planet.

The previous missions that have survived the odds and actually made it to Mars have failed to find signs of life. The two-year mission now aims to find out whether the red planet could have sustained life at some point in its history.

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