Unless you have freshly returned from outer space, you have probably already heard about tonight’s eagerly awaited landing of Curiosity, the next Mars rover. By roughly 1:31 a.m. EDT on Monday, the Mars Space Laboratory vehicle will have either delivered the $2.5 billion rover safely to the planet’s surface or dropped it there, broken and maybe dysfunctional. Either way, Curiosity’s arrival promises to be one of the most dramatic (and media-saturated) science events of the year.
By using a sky crane like mechanism used by construction engineers on earth, Curiosity should fair well on its landing. The best part of all this is it is using nuclear power which could allow it to work for centuries.
We should end up with a better understanding of Mars atmospheric and geological history. The question of life ever being present on Mars should be answered.
Of course, if advanced civilizations exist, it should find them too.