Mars landing: Small step for rover, giant leap to new frontiers — professor

2012-08-07 00:00

WHAT looks like a small step now will lead to new advances in planetary and other exploration.

This was the view of Professor Patrick Woudt, the deputy head of the department of astronomy at the University of Cape Town, after Curiosity landed on Mars yesterday.

He told The Witness that the landing of the rover on the red planet was a tremendous achievement that would bode well for future explorations.

“Curiosity is the latest in a string of more and more complex robotic explorers that have significantly advanced our understanding of Mars, its surface and its history,” said Woudt.

“Besides the exciting and new science that this mission to Mars is expected to deliver, this mission is also about a breakthrough in technology, enabling us to send and successfully land more advanced equipment to explore the surface of another body in the solar system without having to send humans there.”

Woudt said the landing of a vehicle the size of a Mini Cooper on a different planet was a tremendous achievement that has never been done before.

“This again refers back to the question about our place in the universe and developing the technologies necessary to achieve this.

“Frequently, these technologies have applications that benefit society as a whole. These breakthroughs in technology allow us to push the general frontier of knowledge further and inspire young learners around the world to explore the universe,” he added.

— Witness Reporter.

See also pages 6 & 7

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