Human voice makes giant leap in space thanks to Curiosity
An image released Monday, August 27, was taken with Curiosity rover's 100-millimeter mast camera, NASA says. The image shows Mount Sharp on the Martian surface. NASA says the rover will go to this area. Curiosity arrived on Mars early on August 6 and began beaming back images from the surface. See all the images here as they are released. Check out images from previous Mars missions.
The Mars rover Curiosity moved about 15 feet forward and then reversed about 8 feet during its first test drive on Wednesday, August 22. The rover's tracks can be seen in the right portion of this panorama taken by the rover's navigation camera.
NASA tested the steering on its Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, August 21. Drivers wiggled the wheels in place at the landing site on Mars.
(CNN) -- The voice of NASA's chief has boldly gone where no voice has gone before -- to another planet and back.
Words uttered by Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA, were radioed to the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars, which in turn sent them back to NASA's Deep Space Network on Earth, NASA said in a statement Monday.
The successful transmission means Bolden's space-faring comments are the first instance of a recorded human voice traveling from Earth to another planet and back again, according to NASA.
In the recording, Bolden congratulated NASA employees and other agencies involved in the Curiosity mission, noting that "landing a rover on Mars is not easy."
"Others have tried," he said. "Only America has succeeded."
The announcement by NASA of the voice transmission, the latest in a series of advances by Curiosity since it landed on Mars earlier this month, comes just days after the death of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
"We hope these words will be an inspiration to someone alive today who will become the first to stand upon the surface of Mars," Dave Lavery, NASA Curiosity program executive, said in the agency's statement. "And like the great Neil Armstrong, they will speak aloud of that next giant leap in human exploration."
As well as the voice recording, NASA on Monday released new photos of the Martian landscape taken by Curiosity. The images show the knobbly terrain on the side of Mount Sharp, an area that Curiosity is eventually intended to explore.
Mount Sharp was formed from hundreds of rock layers that built up over time. The mountain is about 3 miles high, but the rover will trek up a small portion of it, testing different layers for signs that life could have once existed on Mars. It may take about a year for the rover to reach this target.
Curiosity already is sending back more data from the surface of Mars than the combined results of all of NASA's previous rovers, the space agency said Monday.
Last week, it completed its first drive on Mars, setting the stage for it to venture farther afield.
Despite the complexity of landing a 2,000-pound vehicle on another planet, Curiosity had a perfect landing on August 6, and most of the instruments scientists have tested appear to function.
There's only been one glitch so far: a wind sensor on the rover's weather station was damaged and the reason might always remain mysterious, scientists say.