Emily LakdawallaNov 26, 2011

Curiosity is on its way to Mars!

It was a textbook launch for the Atlas V 541 today at 15:02 UTC, and within an hour after liftoff, the Centaur second stage had sent Curiosity on its way for an 8.5-month journey to Mars. (Says my older daughter: "Mars is close, if you go fast.") As I write, the spacecraft is confirmed to be "power-positive," meaning its solar panels are recharging its batteries, and it's talking to the Canberra Deep Space Network station. The second scariest moment of Curiosity's life is behind us! Now to anticipate that scariest time, the entry, descent, and landing coming up next August...

Curiosity launches on an Atlas V
Curiosity launches on an Atlas V On Saturday, November 26 at 10:02 ET (15:02 UT), an Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Pat Corkery / United Launch Alliance

(My younger daughter's version of the liftoff countdown: "One...two...twee....Wheeee!")

More photos here.

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