NASA Mars rover helped by SA

A South African team helped Nasa to land the Curiosity rover on Mars, the SA National Space Agency (Sansa) said on Tuesday.

The agency was proud to be part of Monday’s historic touch-down on the red planet, international business manager Tiaan Strydom said.

“This is one of the most important explorations of space by one of the most advanced space-faring nations in the world; and as Sansa we celebrate this event with the rest of humanity.”

Curiosity was a US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) rover equipped to look for and analyse soil and rock samples for signs of alien life.

Due to its plutonium battery, Curiosity was able to work around the clock, as opposed to its solar-powered predecessors, like Spirit and Opportunity.

Managing director of Sansa space operations Raoul Hodges said the satellite tracking, telemetry (remote measurement and collection of data), and command team had demonstrated its expertise and proved it was capable of supporting most large-scale space missions.

Curiosity’s mission is expected to last at least one Martian year, which equates to 686 earth days. During this time, it would assess whether Mars had ever supported microbial life.

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NASA Mars rover helped by SA