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Curiosity Opens Communication Channel, Transmits Message From Earth

Aug 28, 2012 07:56 AM EDT

NASA's rover Curiosity has beamed back a recorded human voice and also sent more images of Martian landscapes.

Curiosity has set a record by sending back the message recorded by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden that was radioed to the Curiosity rover.

Bolden recorded a message talking about the difficulty in landing the rover on Mars and congratulated the mission team for the successful landing. He also said about the benefits it could reap for the Earth.

"With this voice, another small step is taken in extending human presence beyond Earth, and the experience of exploring remote worlds is brought a little closer to us all," Dave Lavery, NASA Curiosity program executive, said in a statement.

"As Curiosity continues its mission, we hope these words will be an inspiration to someone alive today who will become the first to stand upon the surface of Mars. And like the great Neil Armstrong, they will speak aloud of that next giant leap in human exploration," he said.

Besides the recorded message, the rover also sent camera views of the landscapes in Mars which showed eroded knobs and gulches on a mountainside. The camera has also taken pictures of the a nearby mountain called Mount Sharp, where Curiosity will go to study further about their surface.

"Those layers are our ultimate objective. The dark dune field is between us and those layers. In front of the dark sand you see redder sand, with a different composition suggested by its different color. The rocks in the foreground show diversity -- some rounded, some angular, with different histories. This is a very rich geological site to look at and eventually to drive through," Mastcam principal investigator Michael Malin, of Malin Space Science Systems in San Dieg, said in a statement.

It might possibly take a year for the rover to reach Mount Sharp, as the rover will spend more time in performing various science operations at Glenelg, a site where three different types of terrain have intersected.

Moreover, the rover team announced during a press conference that the tests on Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument are doing well. SAM will measure the composition of samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere to find out the presence of methane that might support microbial life.

Curiosity landed on the Martian soil on Aug. 5 on a two-year mission. Last week, the rover successfully passed the test ride on Mars and moved around 20 feet (6 meters) from the landing site dubbed as "Bradbury Landing" in honor of the late science fiction author Ray Bradbury.

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