Curiosity to attempt Mars landing

by Jeff Hargarten

NASA's $2.5 billion mission to Mars culminates with the landing of its Curiosity rover early Monday morning.

For seven tenuous minutes, the world will watch as Curiosity attempts to land safely on the martian surface. If successful, Curiosity will be the largest man-made object to ever reach Mars.

Between several international space agencies, humans have attempted 44 different missions to Mars over the years. Only a third reached the planet and only six successful landings have been achieved, all by NASA.

Curiosity’s mission is to search for carbon-based organic compounds, signs there may have been life on Mars at one time. The 1976 Viking mission did not find signs of life on Mars, but did turn up potential organic compounds, which NASA hopes Curiosity can confirm.

Viewing parties are scheduled around the world, including one in Times Square. The landing can also be viewed via Livestream between 9:00 p.m. and midnight Sunday evening.

NASA TV will stream the landing attempt live.