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U.S. Mars rover Curiosity touches down in Red Planet

(Xinhua)

14:41, August 06, 2012

Photo taken on June 10, 2012 shows a scientist introduce Curiosity rover to visitors at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA in Pasadena, California, the United States. NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, loaded with the most sophisticated instruments ever used to explore another world, touched down in the Red Planet early Aug. 6, 2012, on a quest for signs of whether it has evidence of past and present habitable environments. (Xinhua/Yang Lei)

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, loaded with the most-sophisticated instruments ever used to explore another world, touched down on the Red Planet early Monday morning, on a quest for signs of whether the Red Planet has evidence of past and present habitable environments.

"Curiosity rover has landed on Mars ... The time of day at the landing site is mid-afternoon -- about 3 p.m. local Mars time at Gale Crate," NASA announced.

Curiosity landed near the base of a layered mountain three miles (five kilometers) high inside the Gale Crater on Mars. The crater spans almost 100 miles -- an area as large as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

Planetary geologists are intrigued because data from the U.S. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggest the low-lying crater floor once was wet with water. Scientists also think the site might be rife with "organics" -- carbonaceous compounds that are key chemical building blocks for life.
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