Congressmen Adam Schiff, who represents Montrose-La Crescenta, La Cañada and Pasadena and David Dreier, who represents several cities in the San Gabriel Valley, released the following statement after the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), known as Curiosity, successfully touched down on Mars and began its extraordinary mission:
"The landing of Curiosity is a remarkable engineering achievement and the culmination of nearly a decade of work by thousands of people here and around the world. In the coming weeks and months, Curiosity will answer many of the vital questions about Mars’ past and whether it ever had conditions suitable for life. But tonight we celebrate the genius of humankind.
“This success must reinvigorate our efforts to restore funding for planetary science and future Mars missions. While we have restored some of the funding –- almost $100 million so far –- much work remains to return the Mars Program to health. Without the certainty of future missions and support, we will find it impossible to maintain the most specialized workforce on earth –- the brilliant engineers and scientists who made this mission possible.”
"I am tremendously proud of JPL, its talented and dedicated staff, and their incredible achievement in today's landing of the Curiosity," Dreier said. "NASA's continued exploration of Mars, and beyond, affords so many important benefits to our society. Their technology has provided us with a wide range of scientific innovations – everything from advanced medical treatments to new energy solutions. Their research centers provide well-paying, highly-skilled jobs to local communities, including my own district. And perhaps most important, their accomplishments inspire the hearts, minds and imaginations of the youth of America, our next generation of inventors, scientists and explorers."
The Curiosity, which is part of NASA's JPL-built Mars Science Laboratory mission, is the largest rover ever sent to Mars and carries the most advanced scientific equipment to be used on the planet's surface. This mission is to determine whether Mars ever was, or might still be capable of supporting microbial life. The successful deployment of the precision landing technology that equips the Curiosity is a huge step in the future of the surface science and exploration of Mars.
The rover Curiosity has a long-lived power-supply that will allow it to operate for at least one full Mars year (687 Earth days) and travel up to 660 feet per day. Curiosity is equipped with advanced instruments that will allow it to gather, process and analyze samples of Martian rocks and soil. Additionally, the Mars Descent Imager will record color, high-definition video of the landing region before touching down on the Mars surface, in order to provide geological context to the scientific investigations conducted on the ground.