In case you were living with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears, or in case you were insanely watching a pre-recorded Olympics on NBC instead of watching live history unfold, NASA landed the Curiosity Rover at the Gale Crater of Mars. Mars as in the PLANET.
Stated Mission Objectives (from the official press release) are
Assessing the biological potential by examining organic compounds - the “building blocks of life” - and searching for evidence of biologically relevant processes.
Uncovering the geological processes that formed the rocks and soil found on Mars, by studying the isotopical and mineralogical content of surface materials.
Investigate past and present habitability of Mars and the distribution and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation.
If you want to see just how fucking complicated the landing was (and yes, you want to), watch THIS VIDEO.
The Curiosity, as part of the MSL (Mars Science Lab Mission) will explore Mars for the next 2 years, leading to untold advances in scientific data and looking for carbon-based organic compounds - or the “building blocks of life” - to see if Mars ever supported living beings.
If this doesn’t get you excited to be alive, I’m not sure what will. And yes, I was half-expecting the first image transmitted by Curiosity to be a Martian looking at the camera like “WTF Bro?”