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02/15/2013

Heard at the AAAS Meeting: Curiosity's landing on Mars

When NASA landed the Curiosity rover on Mars last August, they were aiming for a specific site in the Gale Crater, a depression near a Martian mountain.

Scientists on the ground drew a circle on an image of the crater showing where they wanted to land it, precisely.

At the AAAS meeting in Boston on Friday, John Grotzinger, the project scientist for the mission, had this to say about their success:
"This is where we landed, and you can see that where we landed is slightly off the centre of the ellipse. So if you consider the 300 hundred plus million mile trip between Earth and Mars, the fact the we missed the centre of the ellipse by a kilometre or two is about the equivalent of teeing off in Tokyo and and picking a window in the Empire State Building and missing it by one window. These guys, as you know, are pretty good at this."

Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. She is at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston this week. Follow her on Twitter @katecallen

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