11 September 2012

A total of 315 people are killed in two garment factory fires in Pakistan.

2012 Pakistan factory fires

2012 Pakistan factory fires
2012 Pakistan factory fires is located in Pakistan
Baldia Town
Baldia Town
Lahore
Lahore
Location of incidents shown in the map of Pakistan.
Date11 September 2012 (2012-09-11)
Location
  1. Baldia Town, Karachi, Sindh
  2. Lahore, Punjab
CauseVarious ignition sources: (still under investigation)
Casualties
Karachi Fire: 289 people killed[1][2] by smoke inhalation, burns and stampede
Lahore Fire: 25 people killed[2] by smoke inhalation, burns and stampede

Garment factories in the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore caught fire on 11 September 2012. The fires occurred in a textile factory in the western part of Karachi and in a shoe making factory in Lahore. The fires are considered to be the most deadly and worst industrial factory fires in Pakistan's history,[3] killing 289 people and seriously injuring more than 600.[4][5][6]

Background

Pakistan has one of the largest labour and manpower resources in the world, due to its large population. According to data produced by the CIA World Factbook, the total number of Pakistan's labour force is 58.4 million, making it the 10th largest country in terms of available human workforce.[7] About 20.1% of labour force is involved in industry. The conditions under which Pakistan's blue-collar labour works have often been raised by trade unions and workers' rights organisations. There is also a controversial, yet wide use of child labour in Pakistan.[8]

The garment factory "Ali Enterprises", which is located in Plot 67, Hub Road, Baldia Town, Karachi,[9] used to export its garments to Europe and the United States, and had employed between 1,200 and 1,500 workers. Ali Enterprises manufactured denim, knitted garments, and hosiery, and had capital of between $10 million and $50 million. Workers at Ali Enterprises said they earned between 5,000 and 10,000 rupees ($52 to $104) a month for their labour.[10] The factory manufactured jeans for textile discounter KiK. KiK claimed to control enforcement of labour laws and security standards of its suppliers. However, a security check in 2007 revealed deficiencies in fire protection of the Karachi plant, which KiK claimed were fixed by 2011. According to the Pakistani Textile Workers Union (NTUF), a high working pressure and overtime with unpaid additional work were frequent at the factory.[11] A few weeks prior to the fire, the factory passed an internationally recognised safety test.[12][13] The factory is also suspected of using child labour and locked workplaces analogous to prison cells. The owner of the factory, Abdul Aziz, had reportedly prevented inspections of the factory.[14]

Karachi

2012 Pakistan factory fires is located in Karachi
2012 Pakistan factory fires
Location of garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi.

A private garment factory lit on fire and the flames ignited chemicals that were stored in the factory.[15] The Baldia Town factory inferno case took a dramatic turn on Friday 7 Feb 2015 when a report by Rangers claimed that the MQM was behind the deadly fire that claimed the lives of at least 258 factory workers.[16]

The report prepared by a joint investigation team (JIT) was submitted to the Sindh High Court by an additional attorney general, along with a statement of the deputy assistant judge advocate general of Rangers, Major Ashfaque Ahmed.[16]

The statement said the information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno. According to the JIT report, the MQM worker revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million as Bhatta (extortion money) though his frontman from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.[15]

Between 300 and 400 workers were inside the factory when the blaze erupted. Officials said that all the exit doors in the factory were locked and many of the windows of the factory were covered with iron bars, which made it difficult for workers to escape at the time of the fire and consequently many of the deaths were caused by suffocation.[17]

2012 Pakistan factory fires is located in Lahore
2012 Pakistan factory fires
Location of factory in Lahore.

Lahore

The shoemaking factory is located on Band Road in Gulshan-i-Ravi in Lahore. It caught fire when sparks from a faulty electricity generator flew into chemicals. The generator was installed in the garage of the factory compound, which was also the only entry and exit point of the factory.[18]

Investigation

Source: Sindh Law enforcement JIT Report Issued on 07 Feb 2015

The Baldia Town factory inferno case took a dramatic turn when a report by Rangers claimed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was behind the deadly fire that claimed the lives of at least 258 factory workers.

The report prepared by a joint investigation team (JIT) was submitted to the Sindh High Court by an additional attorney general, along with a statement of the deputy assistant judge advocate general of Rangers, Major Ashfaque Ahmed.

The statement said the information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.

Source: Joint Investigation Team report submitted to the Sindh High Court

According to the JIT report, the MQM worker revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million as Bhatta (extortion money) though his frontman from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.[19]

One of the factory owners in Karachi, Arshad Bhaila, claimed that the fire first broke out in the warehouse and that he called the fire brigade, which arrived about 90 minutes late. The New York Times reported that the local fire department arrived 75 minutes after the fire started.[20]

A judicial inquiry headed by Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi reported that a short circuit caused the fire. The report cited several factors that exacerbated the situation leading to the loss of life, including the late arrival of fire tenders, the lack of fire hydrants, and traffic congestion. The tribunal was highly critical of the factory owners and government, which failed to enforce the law. It also criticized the police's forensic department for failing to conduct a scientific investigation.[21]

On 14 September, Justice Hassan Azhar of Sindh High Court Larkana Bench approved Rs. 500,000 bail for factory owners Abdul Aziz, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila.[22] All the bank accounts of the owners and the company are frozen and the owners are not allowed to leave the country as they are on exit control list. The owners are facing charges of pre-meditated murder.[23][24] The Deputy General Secretary of the Pakistan National Federation of Trade Unions (PNFTU) Nasir Manoor said that the owner of the factory, Abdul Aziz, must have fled from the country despite having his name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and he would return only after the issue was off the media radar.[14] The Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) denied allegations that it was involved in the approval of the building plans for the Baldia Town garment factory.[25] The C.E.O. of Ali Enterprises, Shahid Bhalia, son of the factory's owner, said that he was innocent and was ready to appear before any court and provide compensation to the victims and their families.[26]

Reaction

President Asif Ali Zardari expressed grave concern over the rising toll in the fire incident. He also consoled the bereaved families and directed the authorities concerned to ensure that the best medical assistance was provided to the affected people.had called for a report on fire incidents in Karachi and Lahore from the governors of the two provinces.[27]

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who was on an official trip to China, telephoned Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa and Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to express his grief and shock over the incident in Lahore. He also called Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad to learn about the latest situation regarding the Karachi factory fire. Ashraf also gave his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the victims' families. He asked the governors and chief ministers to extend all out assistance and cooperation to the affected people.[27]

Sindh Minister for Industry and Commerce Rauf Siddique announced his resignation as a result of the incidence.[28] The Muttahida Qaumi Movement announced three days of mourning. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan also offered condolences and prayed for the victims.[29]

Governor of Sindh Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan has expressed grief over the loss of life in the fire incident and expressed sympathy with the injured of the incident. He then directed the officials concerned to utilise all available resources to control the blaze and ordered an inquiry into the incident. He has also directed the respective authorities to ensure the victims do not face any problems in their treatment and recovery. He also prayed for the early recovery of the injured.[30]

Pakistan's parliament then unanimously passed a resolution asking provincial and federal authorities to fully investigate the accidents.[31] According to the Geo TV, under Factory Act 1934, the owner will have to pay only Rs. 5000 in penalty over negligence in the protection of workers.[32] The leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif has announced Rs. 300,000 in aid to the families of those killed in this incident.[33] On 13 September it was reported that the Sind provincial government would offer financial compensation of Rs. 500,000s to the families of the dead victims and Rs. 50,000 to those who had been injured,[34] while the city's power utility company, KESC, announced they would waive all outstanding balances of the victims as a goodwill gesture.[5] Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah also announced further compensation of Rs. 300,000 for the families of the dead and Rs. 50,000 for those who had been injured.[35][36]

In Lahore, the Punjab Government announced the same value for the families of those who died and Rs. 75,000 for each of those who had been injured as compensation.[9][37]

Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain also announced cash assistance of Rs. 200,000 for the family members of those killed in both the factory fires and Rs. 100,000 for those who had been injured.[38] Zohra Yusuf, Chair of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has urged government officials to initiate a full probe of the disaster and conditions surrounding the facilities, echoing claims made from the head of fire fighting that factory was dangerous.[5]

International reaction

International
  • The International Labour Organization's Country Director Francesco d'Ovidio said that akin to other developing countries, working and safety conditions in Pakistan's industrial sector were inadequate. Though the ILO is acquainted with the issues, it acknowledged that it could not be resolved quickly. He said: "The ILO is aware that there are a lot of factories in Pakistan that are scattered [and] many of them are not registered, so it is very difficult to implement the law. It is very important to ensure that all these factories are registered so that it is possible to follow the situation in all these factories." He further pointed to the need for effective inspection and monitoring, but added that shutting down the illegal and unregistered units would not help as it could lead to massive unemployment.[31]
States
  •  China: Ambassador Liu Jian called on Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Khan on 13 September to convey his condolences on behalf of the government and people of China. He also presented cheques of Rs. 3 million on behalf of the Chinese government for the families of victims.[39]
  •  France: The embassy quoted a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement: "We were deeply shocked to learn that two fires in Pakistan - in Karachi and in Lahore - have, according to the latest report, resulted in the death of more than 200 people. In these painful circumstances, we extend our condolences to the families and friends of the victims."[40]
  •  India: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered his condolences to his Pakistani counterpart, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, saying: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of lives in the fire accidents in Karachi and Lahore on Tuesday, 11 September. On behalf of the government and the people of India, and on my own behalf, I convey our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the two tragedies."[41]
  •  Iran: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered condolences to the Pakistani government and the country saying: "The news on getting killed and wounded of a large number of your good self's citizens following two vast and horrendous fire incidents in cities of Karachi and Lahore deeply saddened and depressed us, and that while condoling with you, the Pakistan government, and noble Pakistani nation, personally, and on behalf of the Iranian government and the great Iranian nation, I pray to Almighty Allah for the salvation of the souls of the bygone victims, fast recovery of the injured victims, patience for the victims' bereaved families, and prosperity and wellbeing for the friend and brother Pakistani nation."[42][43]
  •  Qatar: Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani sent a cable to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari expressing his condolences and sympathies to the families of victims. Deputy Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani sent a similar cable to Zardari.[44]
  •  United Kingdom: Baroness Warsi, senior minister of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, also expressed her grief and said: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life caused by devastating factory fires in Karachi and Lahore and to hear that so many of the victims were children. I send my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with them."[45]
  •  United States: The chargé d'affaires at the U.S. embassy, Richard Hoagland, offered condolences in a press release.[46] on behalf of the U.S. government and its people to Pakistan[47] Lahore Consul General Nina Maria Fite also extended condolences on behalf of the consulate and the U.S. people: "I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the victims of the tragic fire incidents that together claimed so many innocent lives."[48]
NGOs
  • The Asian Human Rights Commission conveyed its "sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones and friends in these fires and calls on the government of Pakistan to ensure a credible and transparent investigation into their cause."[49]

See also

References

  1. ^ Mansoor, Kamran (12 September 2012). "Karachi inferno toll hits 298". The News International. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b Shah, Imtiaz; Akhtar Soomro (12 September 2012). "Fires engulf Pakistan factories killing 314 workers". Reuters. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Pakistan: Hundreds Die In Factory Blazes". Yahoo! News. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  4. ^ "289 killed in Karachi factory fire in Pakistan". China Daily. Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Zia ur-Rehman; Declan Walsh & Salman Masood (12 September 2012). "Pakistan Factory Fires Kill More Than 300". The New York Times. NYT Asia Pacific. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  6. ^ Chaudary, K.M. (12 September 2012). "Death toll in Pakistani fires hits 314". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Labor force – CIA". Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  8. ^ "Field Listing –- Labor force –- CIA". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Human error not the cause of fire, says municipal official". Business Recorder. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  10. ^ "Karachi factory fire highlights risks for workers". The Dawn. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  11. ^ Germany, SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg. "250 Brandopfer in Pakistan: Katastrophenfabrik produzierte für Discounter Kik". Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  12. ^ Cath Turner (22 September 2012). "Pakistan plant certified safe before disaster [video]". Al Jazeera.
  13. ^ Declan Walsh; Steven Greenhouse (19 September 2012). "Inspectors Certified Pakistani Factory as Safe Before Disaster". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  14. ^ a b Tanoli, Qadeer (12 September 2012). "No killed worker had appointment letter". The News International. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  15. ^ a b "Deadly factory fire: Activist says MQM men ignited Baldia blaze: Rangers | The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  16. ^ a b Siddiqui, Tahir (7 February 2015). "Rangers' report blames MQM for Baldia factory fire". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Karachi factory fire: All emergency exits were locked". CNN-IBN. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  18. ^ "Pakistan: Lahore and Karachi fires kill 32". BBC News. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Baldia Town Karachi Factory Fire's Latest Reports - PIADS". Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  20. ^ Declan Walsh; Steven Greenhouse (7 December 2012). "Certified Safe, a Factory in Karachi Still Quickly Burned". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  21. ^ Tunio, Hafeez (4 December 2012). "Baldia factory fire: Short circuit, all of Karachi to blame for tragedy, says tribunal". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  22. ^ Memon, Sarfaraz (14 September 2012). "Karachi factory fire: Court grants bail to factory owners". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  23. ^ web edition. "Khi fire: Owners accounts to be frozen". The News. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  24. ^ web page. "Case lodged against factory owners". The News. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  25. ^ "SITE responsible for Baldia factory building plan, says SBCA". The News International. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  26. ^ Zafar, Abdullah Zafar (13 September 2012). "Karachi factory fire: Owner says ready to compensate victims". News Tribe. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  27. ^ a b "Karachi inferno toll hits 298". The News. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  28. ^ "Rauf Siddiqui resigns over Karachi factory fire". The Dawn. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  29. ^ Online. "Karachi Inferno: Factory cleared after 41 hours". The Nation. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  30. ^ "Will mere condolences heal the wounds of heirs?". The Nation. 13 September 2012. Archived from the original on 15 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  31. ^ a b Gul, Ayaz (13 September 2012). "Catastrophic Pakistan Fires Prompt for Calls Tighter Safety Laws". Voice of America. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  32. ^ "Factory Act: Only Rs.500 penalty over negligence". Geo TV. 14 September 2012. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  33. ^ "Factory fire tragedy: Punjab government announces Rs. 3 lacs aid package for victims". The Dawn. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  34. ^ Javeria, Nasir. "Karachi Fire: Govt announces compensation for affected families". AAJ News. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  35. ^ "Fire in Karachi garment factory kills over 300". The First Post. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  36. ^ Recorder Report (13 September 2012). "Human error not the cause of fire, says municipal official". Business Recorder. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  37. ^ "Rs 500,000 compensation for each dead in shoe factory fire incident". Business Recorder. 12 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  38. ^ "Malik Riaz announces cash aid for fire victims". Daily Times. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  39. ^ "China, France, US condole with fire victims' families". Daily Times. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  40. ^ "France extends condolences to bereaved families". Business Recorder. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  41. ^ "Manmohan Singh expresses condolences over Pakistan fire tragedies". The ExpressTribune. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  42. ^ "Iran Condoles with Pakistan over Tragic Fire Accident". Fars News Agency. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  43. ^ "Iran offers condolences to Pakistan over factory fires". Press TV. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  44. ^ "Emir condoles fire tragedy in Pakistan". The Peninsula. 15 September 2012. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  45. ^ "Warsi expresses grief over deaths in factory fires". Daily Times. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  46. ^ "Statement by Charge d'affaires Richard Hoagland on the Tragic Factory Fires". US embassy in Islamanad. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  47. ^ "US saddened over heavy loss of life in Karachi fire". Business Recorder. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  48. ^ "China, France, US condole with fire victims' families". Daily Times. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  49. ^ "PAKISTAN: Over 300 labourers killed in fires -- a total collapse of the state". Asian Human Rights Commission. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012.

External links

Coordinates: 24°51′36″N 67°00′36″E / 24.86000°N 67.01000°E / 24.86000; 67.01000

6 August 2012

NASA’s Curiosity rover lands on the surface of Mars.

Curiosity (rover)

Curiosity
Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site.jpg
Self-portrait of Curiosity located at the foothill of Mount Sharp (October 6, 2015)
Mission typeMars rover
OperatorNASA
COSPAR ID2011-070A
SATCAT no.37936
Websitemars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
Mission durationPrimary: 668 sols (687 days)
Current: 2533 sols (2602 days) since landing[1]
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer
Dry massRover only: 899 kg (1,982 lb)[2]
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 26, 2011, 15:02:00 (2011-11-26UTC15:02Z) UTC[3][4][5]
RocketAtlas V 541 (AV-028)
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-41[6]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric (transfer)
Mars rover
Spacecraft componentRover
Landing dateAugust 6, 2012, 05:17:57 UTC SCET[7][8]
Landing siteAeolis Palus ("Bradbury Landing"[9]) in the crater Gale
(4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4.5895°S 137.4417°E / -4.5895; 137.4417 (Curiosity))[10][11]
Distance covered21.09 km (13.10 mi)[12]
as of 30 July 2019
Mars rovers (NASA)
 

Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore the crater Gale on Mars as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).[3] Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC and landed on Aeolis Palus inside Gale on Mars on August 6, 2012, 05:17 UTC.[7][8][13] The Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover's touchdown target after a 560 million km (350 million mi) journey.[9][14] The rover's goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration.[15][16]

In December 2012, Curiosity's two-year mission was extended indefinitely,[17] and on August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing.[18][19] The rover is still operational, and as of September 21,2019 Curiosity has been on Mars for 2533 sols (2602 total days) since landing on August 6, 2012. (See current status.)

Curiosity's design serves as the basis for the planned Mars 2020 rover, which will carry different scientific instruments.

Goals and objectives

Animation of the Curiosity rover, showing its capabilities

As established by the Mars Exploration Program, the main scientific goals of the MSL mission are to help determine whether Mars could ever have supported life, as well as determining the role of water, and to study the climate and geology of Mars.[15][16] The mission results will also help prepare for human exploration.[16] To contribute to these goals, MSL has eight main scientific objectives:[20]

Biological
  1. Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds
  2. Investigate the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur)
  3. Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes (biosignatures and biomolecules)
Geological and geochemical
  1. Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials
  2. Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils
Planetary process
  1. Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes
  2. Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide
Surface radiation
  1. Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic and cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons. As part of its exploration, it also measured the radiation exposure in the interior of the spacecraft as it traveled to Mars, and it is continuing radiation measurements as it explores the surface of Mars. This data would be important for a future crewed mission.[21]

About one year into the surface mission, and having assessed that ancient Mars could have been hospitable to microbial life, the MSL mission objectives evolved to developing predictive models for the preservation process of organic compounds and biomolecules; a branch of paleontology called taphonomy.[22]

Specifications

Curiosity comprised 23% of the mass of the 3,893 kg (8,583 lb) spacecraft at launch. The remaining mass was discarded in the process of transport and landing.

  • Dimensions: Curiosity has a mass of 899 kg (1,982 lb) including 80 kg (180 lb) of scientific instruments.[23] The rover is 2.9 m (9.5 ft) long by 2.7 m (8.9 ft) wide by 2.2 m (7.2 ft) in height.[24]
Radioisotope pellet within a graphite shell that fuels the generator
Radioisotope power systems (RPSs) are generators that produce electricity from the decay of radioactive isotopes, such as plutonium-238, which is a non-fissile isotope of plutonium. Heat given off by the decay of this isotope is converted into electric voltage by thermocouples, providing constant power during all seasons and through the day and night. Waste heat is also used via pipes to warm systems, freeing electrical power for the operation of the vehicle and instruments.[25][26] Curiosity's RTG is fueled by 4.8 kg (11 lb) of plutonium-238 dioxide supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy.[27]
Curiosity's RTG is the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), designed and built by Rocketdyne and Teledyne Energy Systems under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy,[28][29] and assembled and tested by the Idaho National Laboratory.[30] Based on legacy RTG technology, it represents a more flexible and compact development step,[31] and is designed to produce 110 watts of electrical power and about 2,000 watts of thermal power at the start of the mission.[25][26] The MMRTG produces less power over time as its plutonium fuel decays: at its minimum lifetime of 14 years, electrical power output is down to 100 watts.[32][33] The power source generates 9 MJ (2.5 kWh) of electrical energy each day, much more than the solar panels of the now retired Mars Exploration Rovers, which generated about 2.1 MJ (0.58 kWh) each day. The electrical output from the MMRTG charges two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. This enables the power subsystem to meet peak power demands of rover activities when the demand temporarily exceeds the generator's steady output level. Each battery has a capacity of about 42 ampere-hours.
  • Heat rejection system: The temperatures at the landing site can vary from −127 to 40 °C (−197 to 104 °F); therefore, the thermal system warms the rover for most of the Martian year. The thermal system does so in several ways: passively, through the dissipation to internal components; by electrical heaters strategically placed on key components; and by using the rover heat rejection system (HRS).[34] It uses fluid pumped through 60 m (200 ft) of tubing in the rover body so that sensitive components are kept at optimal temperatures.[35] The fluid loop serves the additional purpose of rejecting heat when the rover has become too warm, and it can also gather waste heat from the power source by pumping fluid through two heat exchangers that are mounted alongside the RTG. The HRS also has the ability to cool components if necessary.[35]
  • Computers: The two identical on-board rover computers, called Rover Compute Element (RCE) contain radiation hardened memory to tolerate the extreme radiation from space and to safeguard against power-off cycles. The computers run the VxWorks real-time operating system (RTOS). Each computer's memory includes 256 kB of EEPROM, 256 MB of DRAM, and 2 GB of flash memory.[36] For comparison, the Mars Exploration Rovers used 3 MB of EEPROM, 128 MB of DRAM, and 256 MB of flash memory.[37]
The RCE computers use the RAD750 CPU, which is a successor to the RAD6000 CPU of the Mars Exploration Rovers.[38][39] The RAD750 CPU, a radiation-hardened version of the PowerPC 750, can execute up to 400 MIPS, while the RAD6000 CPU is capable of up to only 35 MIPS.[40][41] Of the two on-board computers, one is configured as backup and will take over in the event of problems with the main computer.[36] On February 28, 2013, NASA was forced to switch to the backup computer due to an issue with the active computer's flash memory, which resulted in the computer continuously rebooting in a loop. The backup computer was turned on in safe mode and subsequently returned to active status on March 4.[42] The same issue happened in late March, resuming full operations on March 25, 2013.[43]
The rover has an inertial measurement unit (IMU) that provides 3-axis information on its position, which is used in rover navigation.[36] The rover's computers are constantly self-monitoring to keep the rover operational, such as by regulating the rover's temperature.[36] Activities such as taking pictures, driving, and operating the instruments are performed in a command sequence that is sent from the flight team to the rover.[36] The rover installed its full surface operations software after the landing because its computers did not have sufficient main memory available during flight. The new software essentially replaced the flight software.[14]
The rover has four processors. One of them is a SPARC processor that ran the rover's thrusters and descent-stage motors as it descended through the Martian atmosphere. Two others are PowerPC processors: the main processor, which handles nearly all of the rover's ground functions, and that processor's backup. The fourth one, another SPARC processor, commands the rover's movement and is part of its motor controller box. All four processors are single core.[44]
Curiosity transmits to Earth directly or via three relay satellites in Mars orbit.
  • Communications: Curiosity is equipped with significant telecommunication redundancy by several means: an X band transmitter and receiver that can communicate directly with Earth, and a UHF Electra-Lite software-defined radio for communicating with Mars orbiters.[34] Communication with orbiters is the main path for data return to Earth, since the orbiters have both more power and larger antennas than the lander, allowing for faster transmission speeds.[34] Telecommunication included a small deep space transponder on the descent stage and a solid-state power amplifier on the rover for X band. The rover also has two UHF radios,[34] the signals of which orbiting relay satellites are capable of relaying back to Earth. Signals between Earth and Mars take an average of 14 minutes, 6 seconds.[45] Curiosity can communicate with Earth directly at speeds up to 32 kbit/s, but the bulk of the data transfer is being relayed through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Odyssey orbiter. Data transfer speeds between Curiosity and each orbiter may reach 2000 kbit/s and 256 kbit/s, respectively, but each orbiter is able to communicate with Curiosity for only about eight minutes per day (0.56% of the time).[46] Communication from and to Curiosity relies on internationally agreed space data communications protocols as defined by the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems.[47]
JPL is the central data distribution hub where selected data products are provided to remote science operations sites as needed. JPL is also the central hub for the uplink process, though participants are distributed at their respective home institutions.[34] At landing, telemetry was monitored by three orbiters, depending on their dynamic location: the 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and ESA's Mars Express satellite.[48] As of February 2019, the MAVEN orbiter is being positioned to serve as a relay orbiter while continuing its science mission.[49]
  • Mobility systems: Curiosity is equipped with six 50 cm (20 in) diameter wheels in a rocker-bogie suspension. The suspension system also served as landing gear for the vehicle, unlike its smaller predecessors.[50][51] Each wheel has cleats and is independently actuated and geared, providing for climbing in soft sand and scrambling over rocks. Each front and rear wheel can be independently steered, allowing the vehicle to turn in place as well as execute arcing turns.[34] Each wheel has a pattern that helps it maintain traction but also leaves patterned tracks in the sandy surface of Mars. That pattern is used by on-board cameras to estimate the distance traveled. The pattern itself is Morse code for "JPL" (·--- ·--· ·-··).[52] The rover is capable of climbing sand dunes with slopes up to 12.5°.[53] Based on the center of mass, the vehicle can withstand a tilt of at least 50° in any direction without overturning, but automatic sensors limit the rover from exceeding 30° tilts.[34] After six years of use, the wheels are visibly worn with punctures and tears.[54]
Curiosity can roll over obstacles approaching 65 cm (26 in) in height,[55] and it has a ground clearance of 60 cm (24 in).[56] Based on variables including power levels, terrain difficulty, slippage and visibility, the maximum terrain-traverse speed is estimated to be 200 m (660 ft) per day by automatic navigation.[55] The rover landed about 10 km (6.2 mi) from the base of Mount Sharp,[57] (officially named Aeolis Mons) and it is expected to traverse a minimum of 19 km (12 mi) during its primary two-year mission.[58] It can travel up to 90 m (300 ft) per hour but average speed is about 30 m (98 ft) per hour.[58] The vehicle is 'driven' by several operators led by Vandi Verma, currently[when?] group leader of Autonomous Systems, Mobility and Robotic Systems at JPL,[59][60] who also cowrote the PLEXIL language used to operate the rover.[61][62][63]

Instruments

Instrument location diagram

The general sample analysis strategy begins with high-resolution cameras to look for features of interest. If a particular surface is of interest, Curiosity can vaporize a small portion of it with an infrared laser and examine the resulting spectra signature to query the rock's elemental composition. If that signature is intriguing, the rover uses its long arm to swing over a microscope and an X-ray spectrometer to take a closer look. If the specimen warrants further analysis, Curiosity can drill into the boulder and deliver a powdered sample to either the SAM or the CheMin analytical laboratories inside the rover.[64][65][66] The MastCam, Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) cameras were developed by Malin Space Science Systems and they all share common design components, such as on-board electronic imaging processing boxes, 1600×1200 CCDs, and an RGB Bayer pattern filter.[67][68][69][70][71][72]

In total, the rover carries 17 cameras: HazCams (8), NavCams (4), MastCams (2), MAHLI (1), MARDI (1), and ChemCam (1).[73]

Mast Camera (MastCam)

The turret at the end of the robotic arm holds five devices.

The MastCam system provides multiple spectra and true-color imaging with two cameras.[68] The cameras can take true-color images at 1600×1200 pixels and up to 10 frames per second hardware-compressed video at 720p (1280×720).[74]

One MastCam camera is the Medium Angle Camera (MAC), which has a 34 mm (1.3 in) focal length, a 15° field of view, and can yield 22 cm/pixel (8.7 in/pixel) scale at 1 km (0.62 mi). The other camera in the MastCam is the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), which has a 100 mm (3.9 in) focal length, a 5.1° field of view, and can yield 7.4 cm/pixel (2.9 in/pixel) scale at 1 km (0.62 mi).[68] Malin also developed a pair of MastCams with zoom lenses,[75] but these were not included in the rover because of the time required to test the new hardware and the looming November 2011 launch date.[76] However, the improved zoom version was selected to be incorporated on the upcoming Mars 2020 mission as Mastcam-Z.[77]

Each camera has eight gigabytes of flash memory, which is capable of storing over 5,500 raw images, and can apply real time lossless data compression.[68] The cameras have an autofocus capability that allows them to focus on objects from 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) to infinity.[71] In addition to the fixed RGBG Bayer pattern filter, each camera has an eight-position filter wheel. While the Bayer filter reduces visible light throughput, all three colors are mostly transparent at wavelengths longer than 700 nm, and have minimal effect on such infrared observations.[68]

Chemistry and Camera complex (ChemCam)

The internal spectrometer (left) and the laser telescope (right) for the mast

ChemCam is a suite of two remote sensing instruments combined as one: a laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and a Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope. The ChemCam instrument suite was developed by the French CESR laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.[78][79][80] The flight model of the mast unit was delivered from the French CNES to Los Alamos National Laboratory.[81] The purpose of the LIBS instrument is to provide elemental compositions of rock and soil, while the RMI gives ChemCam scientists high-resolution images of the sampling areas of the rocks and soil that LIBS targets.[78][82] The LIBS instrument can target a rock or soil sample up to 7 m (23 ft) away, vaporizing a small amount of it with about 50 to 75 5-nanosecond pulses from a 1067 nm infrared laser and then observes the spectrum of the light emitted by the vaporized rock.[83]

First laser spectrum of chemical elements from ChemCam on Curiosity ("Coronation" rock, August 19, 2012)

ChemCam has the ability to record up to 6,144 different wavelengths of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light.[84] Detection of the ball of luminous plasma is done in the visible, near-UV and near-infrared ranges, between 240 nm and 800 nm.[78] The first initial laser testing of the ChemCam by Curiosity on Mars was performed on a rock, N165 ("Coronation" rock), near Bradbury Landing on August 19, 2012.[85][86][87] The ChemCam team expects to take approximately one dozen compositional measurements of rocks per day.[88]

Using the same collection optics, the RMI provides context images of the LIBS analysis spots. The RMI resolves 1 mm (0.039 in) objects at 10 m (33 ft) distance, and has a field of view covering 20 cm (7.9 in) at that distance.[78]

Navigation cameras (navcams)

First full-resolution Navcam images

The rover has two pairs of black and white navigation cameras mounted on the mast to support ground navigation.[89][90] The cameras have a 45° angle of view and use visible light to capture stereoscopic 3-D imagery.[90][91]

Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS)

REMS comprises instruments to measure the Mars environment: humidity, pressure, temperatures, wind speeds, and ultraviolet radiation.[92] It is a meteorological package that includes an ultraviolet sensor provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. The investigative team is led by Javier Gómez-Elvira of the Spanish Astrobiology Center and includes the Finnish Meteorological Institute as a partner.[93][94] All sensors are located around three elements: two booms attached to the rover's mast, the Ultraviolet Sensor (UVS) assembly located on the rover top deck, and the Instrument Control Unit (ICU) inside the rover body. REMS provides new clues about the Martian general circulation, micro scale weather systems, local hydrological cycle, destructive potential of UV radiation, and subsurface habitability based on ground-atmosphere interaction.[93]

Hazard avoidance cameras (hazcams)

The rover has four pairs of black and white navigation cameras called hazcams, two pairs in the front and two pairs in the back.[89][95] They are used for autonomous hazard avoidance during rover drives and for safe positioning of the robotic arm on rocks and soils.[95] Each camera in a pair is hardlinked to one of two identical main computers for redundancy; only four out of the eight cameras are in use at any one time. The cameras use visible light to capture stereoscopic three-dimensional (3-D) imagery.[95] The cameras have a 120° field of view and map the terrain at up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in front of the rover.[95] This imagery safeguards against the rover crashing into unexpected obstacles, and works in tandem with software that allows the rover to make its own safety choices.[95]

Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)

MAHLI is a camera on the rover's robotic arm, and acquires microscopic images of rock and soil. MAHLI can take true-color images at 1600×1200 pixels with a resolution as high as 14.5 micrometers per pixel. MAHLI has an 18.3 to 21.3 mm (0.72 to 0.84 in) focal length and a 33.8–38.5° field of view.[69] MAHLI has both white and ultraviolet LED illumination for imaging in darkness or fluorescence imaging. MAHLI also has mechanical focusing in a range from infinite to millimeter distances.[69] This system can make some images with focus stacking processing.[96] MAHLI can store either the raw images or do real time lossless predictive or JPEG compression. The calibration target for MAHLI includes color references, a metric bar graphic, a 1909 VDB Lincoln penny, and a stair-step pattern for depth calibration.[97]

Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS)

The APXS instrument irradiates samples with alpha particles and maps the spectra of X-rays that are re-emitted for determining the elemental composition of samples.[98] Curiosity's APXS was developed by the Canadian Space Agency.[98] MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA), the Canadian aerospace company that built the Canadarm and RADARSAT, were responsible for the engineering design and building of the APXS. The APXS science team includes members from the University of Guelph, the University of New Brunswick, the University of Western Ontario, NASA, the University of California, San Diego and Cornell University.[99] The APXS instrument takes advantage of particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and X-ray fluorescence, previously exploited by the Mars Pathfinder and the two Mars Exploration Rovers.[98][100]

Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin)

Curiosity's CheMin Spectrometer on Mars (September 11, 2012), with sample inlet seen closed and open.
First X-ray diffraction view of Martian soil (Curiosity at Rocknest, October 17, 2012).[101]

CheMin is the Chemistry and Mineralogy X-ray powder diffraction and fluorescence instrument.[102] CheMin is one of four spectrometers. It can identify and quantify the abundance of the minerals on Mars. It was developed by David Blake at NASA Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,[103] and won the 2013 NASA Government Invention of the year award.[104] The rover can drill samples from rocks and the resulting fine powder is poured into the instrument via a sample inlet tube on the top of the vehicle. A beam of X-rays is then directed at the powder and the crystal structure of the minerals deflects it at characteristic angles, allowing scientists to identify the minerals being analyzed.[105]

On October 17, 2012, at "Rocknest", the first X-ray diffraction analysis of Martian soil was performed. The results revealed the presence of several minerals, including feldspar, pyroxenes and olivine, and suggested that the Martian soil in the sample was similar to the "weathered basaltic soils" of Hawaiian volcanoes.[101] The paragonetic tephra from a Hawaiian cinder cone has been mined to create Martian regolith simulant for researchers to use since 1998.[106][107]

Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM)

First night-time pictures on Mars (white-light left/UV right) (Curiosity viewing Sayunei rock, January 22, 2013)

The SAM instrument suite analyzes organics and gases from both atmospheric and solid samples. It consists of instruments developed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Laboratoire Inter-Universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA) (jointly operated by France's CNRS and Parisian universities), and Honeybee Robotics, along with many additional external partners.[65][108][109] The three main instruments are a Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (QMS), a gas chromatograph (GC) and a tunable laser spectrometer (TLS). These instruments perform precision measurements of oxygen and carbon isotope ratios in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in the atmosphere of Mars in order to distinguish between their geochemical or biological origin.[65][109][110][111][112]

Dust Removal Tool (DRT)

First use of Curiosity's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) (January 6, 2013); Ekwir_1 rock before/after cleaning (left) and closeup (right)

The Dust Removal Tool (DRT) is a motorized, wire-bristle brush on the turret at the end of Curiosity's arm. The DRT was first used on a rock target named Ekwir_1 on January 6, 2013. Honeybee Robotics built the DRT.[113]

Radiation assessment detector (RAD)

The role of the RAD instrument is to characterize the broad spectrum of radiation environment found inside the spacecraft during the cruise phase and while on Mars. These measurements have never been done before from the inside of a spacecraft in interplanetary space. Its primary purpose is to determine the viability and shielding needs for potential human explorers, as well as to characterize the radiation environment on the surface of Mars, which it started doing immediately after MSL landed in August 2012.[114] Funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters and Germany's Space Agency (DLR), RAD was developed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the extraterrestrial physics group at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany.[114][115]

Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN)

The DAN instrument employs a neutron source and detector for measuring the quantity and depth of hydrogen or ice and water at or near the Martian surface.[116] The instrument consists of the detector element (DE) and a 14.1 MeV pulsing neutron generator (PNG). The die-away time of neutrons is measured by the DE after each neutron pulse from the PNG. DAN was provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency,[117][118] and funded by Russia.[119]

Mars Descent Imager (MARDI)

MARDI camera

MARDI was fixed to the lower front left corner of the body of Curiosity. During the descent to the Martian surface, MARDI took color images at 1600×1200 pixels with a 1.3-millisecond exposure time starting at distances of about 3.7 km (2.3 mi) to near 5 m (16 ft) from the ground, at a rate of four frames per second for about two minutes.[70][120] MARDI has a pixel scale of 1.5 m (4.9 ft) at 2 km (1.2 mi) to 1.5 mm (0.059 in) at 2 m (6.6 ft) and has a 90° circular field of view. MARDI has eight gigabytes of internal buffer memory that is capable of storing over 4,000 raw images. MARDI imaging allowed the mapping of surrounding terrain and the location of landing.[70] JunoCam, built for the Juno spacecraft, is based on MARDI.[121]

Robotic arm

First use of Curiosity's scooper as it sifts a load of sand at Rocknest (October 7, 2012)

The rover has a 2.1 m (6.9 ft) long robotic arm with a cross-shaped turret holding five devices that can spin through a 350° turning range.[123][124] The arm makes use of three joints to extend it forward and to stow it again while driving. It has a mass of 30 kg (66 lb) and its diameter, including the tools mounted on it, is about 60 cm (24 in).[125] It was designed, built, and tested by MDA US Systems, building upon their prior robotic arm work on the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, the Phoenix lander, and the two Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.[126]

Two of the five devices are in-situ or contact instruments known as the X-ray spectrometer (APXS), and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI camera). The remaining three are associated with sample acquisition and sample preparation functions: a percussion drill; a brush; and mechanisms for scooping, sieving, and portioning samples of powdered rock and soil.[123][125] The diameter of the hole in a rock after drilling is 1.6 cm (0.63 in) and up to 5 cm (2.0 in) deep.[124][127] The drill carries two spare bits.[127][128] The rover's arm and turret system can place the APXS and MAHLI on their respective targets, and also obtain powdered sample from rock interiors, and deliver them to the SAM and CheMin analyzers inside the rover.[124]

Since early 2015 the percussive mechanism in the drill that helps chisel into rock has had an intermittent electrical short.[129] On December 1, 2016, the motor inside the drill caused a malfunction that prevented the rover from moving its robotic arm and driving to another location.[130] The fault was isolated to the drill feed brake,[131] and internal debris is suspected of causing the problem.[129] By December 9, driving and robotic arm operations were cleared to continue, but drilling remained suspended indefinitely.[132] The Curiosity team continued to perform diagnostics and testing on the drill mechanism throughout 2017,[133] and resumed drilling operations on May 22, 2018.[134]

Comparisons to other Mars missions

Two Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers stand with three vehicles, providing a size comparison of three generations of Mars rovers. Front and center is the flight spare for the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997 as part of the Mars Pathfinder Project. On the left is a Mars Exploration Rover (MER) test vehicle that is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004. On the right is a test rover for the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed Curiosity on Mars in 2012.
Sojourner is 65 cm (2.13 ft) long. The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) are 1.6 m (5.2 ft) long. Curiosity on the right is 3 m (9.8 ft) long.

Curiosity has an advanced payload of scientific equipment on Mars.[55] It is the fourth NASA robotic rover sent to Mars since 1996. Previous successful Mars rovers are Sojourner from the Mars Pathfinder mission (1997), and Spirit (2004–2010) and Opportunity (2004–2019) rovers from the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

Curiosity is 2.9 m (9.5 ft) long by 2.7 m (8.9 ft) wide by 2.2 m (7.2 ft) in height,[24] larger than Mars Exploration Rovers, which are 1.5 m (4.9 ft) long and have a mass of 174 kg (384 lb) including 6.8 kg (15 lb) of scientific instruments.[23][135][136] In comparison to Pancam on the Mars Exploration Rovers, the MastCam-34 has 1.25× higher spatial resolution and the MastCam-100 has 3.67× higher spatial resolution.[71]

The region the rover is set to explore has been compared to the Four Corners region of the North American west.[137]

Colin Pillinger, leader of the Beagle 2 project, reacted emotionally to the large number of technicians monitoring Curiosity's descent, because Beagle 2 had only four people monitoring it.[138] The Beagle 2 team made a virtue out of necessity; it was known that there was no chance of obtaining funds in Europe, at that time, of the scale previously considered necessary for a Mars rover, so the team used innovative methods to reduce the cost to less than 4% of the cost of the Curiosity mission. They also had only one shot, with no funding for repeat missions (it was named Beagle 2 as a successor to HMS Beagle, not to an earlier rover).[138] It was considered a large risk, and although Beagle 2 did successfully survive its entry, descent, and landing, incomplete deployment of the solar panels hampered communication back to Earth.[139] The team has proposed that a future launch might take multiple low-cost Beagle-type landers, with a realistic expectation that the vast majority would be successful, allowing exploration of several locations on Mars and possibly asteroids, all for considerably less cost than a single "normal" rover expedition.[140]

The name: Curiosity

A NASA panel selected the name Curiosity following a nationwide student contest that attracted more than 9,000 proposals via the Internet and mail. A sixth-grade student from Kansas, twelve-year-old Clara Ma from Sunflower Elementary School in Lenexa, Kansas, submitted the winning entry. As her prize, Ma won a trip to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where she signed her name directly onto the rover as it was being assembled.[141]

Ma wrote in her winning essay:

Curiosity is an everlasting flame that burns in everyone's mind. It makes me get out of bed in the morning and wonder what surprises life will throw at me that day. Curiosity is such a powerful force. Without it, we wouldn't be who we are today. Curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives. We have become explorers and scientists with our need to ask questions and to wonder.[141]

Landing

Landing site

Curiosity landed in Quad 51 (nicknamed Yellowknife) of Aeolis Palus in the crater Gale.[142][143][144][145] The landing site coordinates are: 4°35′22″S 137°26′30″E / 4.5895°S 137.4417°E / -4.5895; 137.4417.[10][11] The location was named Bradbury Landing on August 22, 2012, in honor of science fiction author Ray Bradbury.[9] Gale, an estimated 3.5 to 3.8 billion-year-old impact crater, is hypothesized to have first been gradually filled in by sediments; first water-deposited, and then wind-deposited, possibly until it was completely covered. Wind erosion then scoured out the sediments, leaving an isolated 5.5-kilometer-high (3.4 mi) mountain, Aeolis Mons ("Mount Sharp"), at the center of the 154 km (96 mi) wide crater. Thus, it is believed that the rover may have the opportunity to study two billion years of Martian history in the sediments exposed in the mountain. Additionally, its landing site is near an alluvial fan, which is hypothesized to be the result of a flow of ground water, either before the deposition of the eroded sediments or else in relatively recent geologic history.[146][147]

According to NASA, an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 heat-resistant bacterial spores were on Curiosity at launch, and as much as 1,000 times that number may not have been counted.[148]

Curiosity and surrounding area as viewed by MRO/HiRISE. North is left. (August 14, 2012; enhanced colors)

Rover's role in the landing system

NASA video describing the landing procedure. NASA dubbed the landing as "Seven Minutes of Terror".

Previous NASA Mars rovers became active only after the successful entry, descent and landing on the Martian surface. Curiosity, on the other hand, was active when it touched down on the surface of Mars, employing the rover suspension system for the final set-down.[149]

Curiosity transformed from its stowed flight configuration to a landing configuration while the MSL spacecraft simultaneously lowered it beneath the spacecraft descent stage with a 20 m (66 ft) tether from the "sky crane" system to a soft landing—wheels down—on the surface of Mars.[150][151][152][153] After the rover touched down it waited 2 seconds to confirm that it was on solid ground then fired several pyrotechnic fasteners activating cable cutters on the bridle to free itself from the spacecraft descent stage. The descent stage then flew away to a crash landing, and the rover prepared itself to begin the science portion of the mission.[154]

Coverage, cultural impact and legacy

Celebration erupts at NASA with the rover's successful landing on Mars (August 6, 2012).
President Barack Obama congratulates NASA's Curiosity team (August 13, 2012).[155]

Live video showing the first footage from the surface of Mars was available at NASA TV, during the late hours of August 6, 2012 PDT, including interviews with the mission team. The NASA website momentarily became unavailable from the overwhelming number of people visiting it,[156] and a 13-minute NASA excerpt of the landings on its YouTube channel was halted an hour after the landing by an automated DMCA takedown notice from Scripps Local News, which prevented access for several hours.[157] Around 1,000 people gathered in New York City's Times Square, to watch NASA's live broadcast of Curiosity's landing, as footage was being shown on the giant screen.[158] Bobak Ferdowsi, Flight Director for the landing, became an Internet meme and attained Twitter celebrity status, with 45,000 new followers subscribing to his Twitter account, due to his Mohawk hairstyle with yellow stars that he wore during the televised broadcast.[159][160]

On August 13, 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama, calling from aboard Air Force One to congratulate the Curiosity team, said, "You guys are examples of American know-how and ingenuity. It's really an amazing accomplishment."[155] (Video (07:20))

U.S. flag on Mars
Plaque of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden's signatures on Mars

Scientists at the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles, California, viewed the CheMin instrument aboard Curiosity as a potentially valuable means to examine ancient works of art without damaging them. Until recently, only a few instruments were available to determine the composition without cutting out physical samples large enough to potentially damage the artifacts. CheMin directs a beam of X-rays at particles as small as 400 micrometers (0.016 in)[161] and reads the radiation scattered back to determine the composition of the artifact in minutes. Engineers created a smaller, portable version named the X-Duetto. Fitting into a few briefcase-sized boxes, it can examine objects on site, while preserving their physical integrity. It is now being used by Getty scientists to analyze a large collection of museum antiques and the Roman ruins of Herculaneum, Italy.[162]

Prior to the landing, NASA and Microsoft released Mars Rover Landing, a free downloadable game on Xbox Live that uses Kinect to capture body motions, which allows users to simulate the landing sequence.[163]

NASA gave the general public the opportunity from 2009 until 2011 to submit their names to be sent to Mars. More than 1.2 million people from the international community participated, and their names were etched into silicon using an electron-beam machine used for fabricating micro devices at JPL, and this plaque is now installed on the deck of Curiosity.[164] In keeping with a 40-year tradition, a plaque with the signatures of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden was also installed. Elsewhere on the rover is the autograph of Clara Ma, the 12-year-old girl from Kansas who gave Curiosity its name in an essay contest, writing in part that "curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives."[165]

On August 6, 2013, Curiosity audibly played "Happy Birthday to You" in honor of the one Earth year mark of its Martian landing, the first time for a song to be played on another planet. This was also the first time music was transmitted between two planets.[166]

On June 24, 2014, Curiosity completed a Martian year—687 Earth days—after finding that Mars once had environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.[167] Curiosity serves as the basis for the design of the Mars 2020 rover mission that is planned to be launched to Mars in 2020. Some spare parts from the build and ground test of Curiosity are being used in the new vehicle, but it will carry a different instrument payload.[168]

On August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover mission landing, and related exploratory accomplishments, on the planet Mars.[18][19] (Videos: Curiosity's First Five Years (02:07); Curiosity's POV: Five Years Driving (05:49); Curiosity's Discoveries About Gale Crater (02:54))

As reported in 2018, drill samples taken in 2015 uncovered organic molecules of benzene and propane in 3 billion year old rock samples in Gale.[169][170][171]

Awards

The NASA/JPL Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Project Team was awarded the 2012 Robert J. Collier Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association "In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of successfully landing Curiosity on Mars, advancing the nation's technological and engineering capabilities, and significantly improving humanity's understanding of ancient Martian habitable environments."[172]

Images

Descent of Curiosity (video-02:26; August 6, 2012)
Interactive 3D model of the rover (with extended arm)

Components of Curiosity

Orbital images

Rover images

Self-portraits

Curiosity rover on Mount Sharp on Mars — self-portraits
"Rocknest"
(Oct2012)
"JohnKlein"
(May2013)
"Windjana"
(May2014)
"Mojave"
(Jan2015)
"Buckskin"
(Aug2015)
"BigSky"
(Oct2015)
"Namib"
(Jan 2016)
"Murray"
(Sep2016)
"VeraRubin"
(Jan2018)
"DustStorm"
(Jun2018)
"VeraRubin"
(Jan2019)
"Aberlady"
(May2019)

Wide images

Curiosity's first 360° color panorama image (August 8, 2012)[173][174]
Curiosity's view of Mount Sharp (September 20, 2012; raw color version)
Curiosity's view of the Rocknest area. South is at center, north is at both ends. Mount Sharp dominates the horizon, while Glenelg is left-of-center and rover tracks are right-of-center (November 16, 2012; white balanced; raw color version; high-res panoramic).
Curiosity's view from Rocknest looking east toward Point Lake (center) on the way to Glenelg (November 26, 2012; white balanced; raw color version)
Curiosity's view of "Mount Sharp" (September 9, 2015)
Curiosity's view of Mars sky at sunset (February 2013; Sun simulated by artist)
Acheron FossaeAcidalia PlanitiaAlba MonsAmazonis PlanitiaAonia PlanitiaArabia TerraArcadia PlanitiaArgentea PlanumArgyre PlanitiaChryse PlanitiaClaritas FossaeCydonia MensaeDaedalia PlanumElysium MonsElysium PlanitiaGale craterHadriaca PateraHellas MontesHellas PlanitiaHesperia PlanumHolden craterIcaria PlanumIsidis PlanitiaJezero craterLomonosov craterLucus PlanumLycus SulciLyot craterLunae PlanumMalea PlanumMaraldi craterMareotis FossaeMareotis TempeMargaritifer TerraMie craterMilankovič craterNepenthes MensaeNereidum MontesNilosyrtis MensaeNoachis TerraOlympica FossaeOlympus MonsPlanum AustralePromethei TerraProtonilus MensaeSirenumSisyphi PlanumSolis PlanumSyria PlanumTantalus FossaeTempe TerraTerra CimmeriaTerra SabaeaTerra SirenumTharsis MontesTractus CatenaTyrrhen TerraUlysses PateraUranius PateraUtopia PlanitiaValles MarinerisVastitas BorealisXanthe TerraMap of Mars
The image above contains clickable linksInteractive imagemap of the global topography of Mars, overlain with locations of Mars landers and rovers. Hover your mouse to see the names of over 60 prominent geographic features, and click to link to them. Coloring of the base map indicates relative elevations, based on data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor. Whites and browns indicate the highest elevations (+12 to +8 km); followed by pinks and reds (+8 to +3 km); yellow is 0 km; greens and blues are lower elevations (down to −8 km). Axes are latitude and longitude; Polar regions are noted.
(   Rover  Lander  Future )
Beagle 2
Bradbury Landing
Deep Space 2
Columbia Memorial Station
InSight Landing
Mars 2020
Mars 2
Mars 3
Mars 6
Mars Polar Lander
Challenger Memorial Station
Green Valley
Schiaparelli EDM lander
Carl Sagan Memorial Station
Columbia Memorial Station
Thomas Mutch Memorial Station
Gerald Soffen Memorial Station

See also

References

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2 June 2012

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

On 24 May 2011, Mubarak was ordered to stand trial on charges of premeditated murder of peaceful protesters during the revolution and, if convicted, could face the death penalty. The decision to try Mubarak was made days before a scheduled protest in Tahrir Square. The full list of charges released by the public prosecutor was “intentional murder, attempted killing of some demonstrators … misuse of influence, deliberately wasting public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains and profits”.

On 28 May, a Cairo administrative court found Mubarak guilty of damaging the national economy during the protests by shutting down the Internet and telephone services. He was fined LE200 million—about US$33.6 million—which the court ordered he must pay from his personal assets. This was the first court ruling against Mubarak, who would next have to answer to the murder charges.

The trial of Hosni Mubarak, his sons Ala’a and Gamal, former interior minister Habib el-Adly and six former top police officials began on 3 August 2011 at a temporary criminal court at the Police Academy in north Cairo. They were charged with corruption and the premeditated killing of peaceful protesters during the mass movement to oust the Mubarak government, the latter of which carries the death penalty. The trial was broadcast on Egyptian television; Mubarak made an unexpected appearance—his first since his resignation. He was taken into the court on a hospital bed and held in a cage for the session. Upon hearing the charges against him, Mubarak pleaded not guilty. Judge Ahmed Refaat adjourned the court, ruling that Mubarak be transferred under continued arrest to the military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo. The second court session scheduled for 15 August. On 15 August, the resumed trial lasted three hours. At the end of the session, Rifaat announced that the third session would take place on 5 September and that the remainder of the proceedings would be off-limits to television cameras.

Riot police outside the courthouse where Mubarak was being sentenced on 2 June 2012

The trial resumed in December 2011 and lasted until January 2012. The defense strategy was that Mubarak never actually resigned, was still president, and thus had immunity. On 2 June 2012, Mubarak was found guilty of not halting the killing of protesters by the Egyptian security forces; he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The court found Mubarak not guilty of ordering the crackdown on Egyptian protesters. All other charges against Mubarak, including profiteering and economic fraud, were dismissed. Mubarak’s sons, Habib el-Adly, and six senior police officials were all acquitted for their roles in the killing of demonstrators because of a lack of evidence.[97] According to The Guardian, the relatives of those killed by Mubarak’s forces were angered by the verdict. Thousands of demonstrators protested the verdict in Tahrir Square, Arbein Square and Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square.

In January 2013, an appeals court overturned Mubarak’s life sentence and ordered a retrial. He remained in custody and returned to court on 11 May 2013 for a retrial on charges of complicity in the murder of protesters. On 21 August 2013, a Cairo court ordered his release. Judicial sources confirmed that the court had upheld a petition from Mubarak’s longtime lawyer that called for his release. A day later, interim prime minister Hazem El Beblawiordered that Mubarak be put under house arrest.

On 21 May 2014, while awaiting retrial, Mubarak and his sons were convicted on charges of embezzlement; Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison, while his sons received four-year sentences. The three were fined the equivalent of US$2.9 million, and were ordered to repay US$17.6 million.

In November 2014, conspiracy to kill charges were dismissed by the Cairo Criminal Court on a technicality. The court also cleared Mubarak of corruption charges. On 13 January 2015, Egypt’s Court of Cassation overturned Mubarak’s and his sons’ embezzlement charges, the last remaining conviction against him, and ordered a retrial. A retrial on the corruption charges led to a conviction and sentencing to three years in prison in May 2015 for Mubarak, with four-year terms for his sons, Gamal and Alaa. It was not immediately clear whether the sentence would take into account time already served – Mubarak and his sons have already spent more than three years in prison, so potentially will not have to serve any additional time. Supporters of Mubarak jeered the decision when it was announced in a Cairo courtroom on 9 May. The sentence also included a 125 million Egyptian pound fine, and required the return of 21 million embezzled Egyptian pounds. These amounts were previously paid after the first trial.

7 January 2012

A hot air balloon crashes near Carterton, New Zealand. All 11 people on board are killed.

On 7 January 2012, a scenic hot air balloon flight from Carterton, New Zealand, collided with a high-voltage power line while attempting to land, causing it to catch fire, disintegrate and crash just north of the town, killing all eleven people on board.

An inquiry into the accident by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission concluded that the balloon pilot made an error of judgement when contact with the power lines became imminent, trying to out-climb the power lines rather than using the rapid descent system to drop the balloon quickly to the ground below. Toxicology analysis of the balloon pilot after the accident tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, suggesting he may have been under the influence of cannabis at the time of the crash, which ultimately led to the error in judgement. The crash was the sixth accident in ten years the TAIC had investigated which involved key people testing positive for drugs or alcohol, and the commission has called for the government to enact stricter measures in regards to drug and alcohol use in the aviation, marine and rail industries.

The crash was the deadliest air disaster to occur in mainland New Zealand since the July 1963 crash of New Zealand National Airways Corporation Flight 441 in the Kaimai Ranges, and the deadliest crash involving a New Zealand aircraft since the November 1979 crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 into Mount Erebus. As of September 2016, it is the deadliest ever ballooning disaster in New Zealand, and the fourth deadliest worldwide, surpassed only by the balloon crash in Australia in 1989 that killed 13, the balloon crash in Texas in 2016 that killed 16 people, and the 2013 crash in Egypt that killed 19 people.

The balloon was a Cameron A-210 model, registered ZK-XXF and named Mr Big. The envelope was manufactured in the United Kingdom in 1997, and was initially used in the United Kingdom before being purchased and imported into New Zealand by Early Morning Balloons Ltd in 2001. The basket and burner system, capable of carrying ten passengers plus pilot, were manufactured in 1989 and were previously used with a Thunder and Colt 160A envelope before the envelope was retired at the end of its useful life.

The balloon took off at 6:38 am from its launching area in Carterton, a town of 4100 people in north-eastern Wellington Region, on a 45-minute scenic flight over the Carterton area, carrying ten passengers. The Masterton-based pilot was one of New Zealand’s most experienced balloon pilots, with more than 10,000 hours flying time, and was the safety officer for the “Balloons over Wairarapa” hot air balloon festival, held annually in March around the Carterton and Masterton area. The ten passengers were all from the greater Wellington Region: two husband-and-wife couples from Masterton and Wellington, a couple from Lower Hutt, a boyfriend and girlfriend from Wellington, and two cousins from Masterton and Paraparaumu. At the time, the weather was clear, with sufficient light and little wind. Data collected from weather stations at six nearby vineyards confirmed that the wind was mostly calm with occasional gusts up to 11.4 kilometres per hour from the north-east.

The accident occurred around 7:20 am, when the balloon was attempting to land after completing a partial figure-8 flight pattern over the Carterton area. The pilot had indicated to the chase team he was likely to land near Somerset Road, a rural through road just north of Carterton in the locality of Clareville. At first the balloon was heading north-east over Somerset Road, around 700 metres east of the road’s intersection with State Highway 2. Around 400 metres north of Somerset Road, the balloon reversed direction and headed back towards the road. The two chase vehicles, carrying some of the family members of the passengers, positioned on the road ready to assist with the landing.

Eyewitnesses saw the balloon climb and drift east towards a ten-metre high 33,000-volt power line running perpendicular to the road, one of the two lines that connected the Clareville zone substation, which supplied Carterton and the surrounding rural area, to the national grid at Transpower’s Masterton substation. The pilot was heard shouting “duck down” as the balloon came in contact with the power line around 85 metres from the road. One of the conductor wires was caught over the top of the pilot’s end of the basket, and the pilot attempted to get the balloon to climb, but the tension of the wire prevented it rising and instead the balloon slid along the conductor. Around 20 seconds later, electrical arcing occurred as the balloon caused a phase-to-phase short circuit, tripping the line and causing the 3800 properties supplied by the Clareville zone substation to lose power. The arcing caused one of the four liquefied petroleum gas bottles supplying the burners to rupture, and a fire subsequently started.

Two of the passengers jumped from the balloon to avoid the fire, falling ten metres to their deaths below. As the fire intensified, it caused the air inside the balloon to heat and force it to rise. Eventually, the conductor wire on the power line snapped, sending the balloon shooting upwards. The fire soon engulfed the whole balloon, and 150 metres in the air, the envelope disintegrated, causing the balloon to fall towards the ground, with the wreckage landing in a field just south of Somerset Road, around 600 metres east of the SH2 intersection.

Emergency services were on the scene within seven minutes but, shortly after they arrived, ambulance staff found that all eleven people had died at the scene, and this was later confirmed by police. The bodies of the two people who jumped from the balloon were located 200 metres from the crash site.

It took two days until 9 January to remove the last victims’ bodies from the crash site. All eleven victims’ bodies were taken to Wellington Hospital to be formally identified.

The wreckage was examined at the scene, before being packed into a shipping container and transported to the TAIC’s secure workshop in Wellington.

Power to the Carterton area was restored shortly after the crash using the remaining subtransmission line and spare capacity in the 11,000-volt distribution network until the damaged line was repaired. The damaged power line conductors were removed from the scene for examination.

A memorial was erected in January 2016 near the site of the disaster.

16 August 2012

Police in South Africa fatally shoot 34 miners and wound 78 more during an industrial dispute at Marikana near Rustenburg.

MARIKANA will for ever be infamous for the fatal shooting of 34 striking mineworkers by heavily armed policemen on August 16, 2012.
As many as 78 others were wounded on that fateful day, which is being commemorated today. The day marked one of the darkest days in post-apartheid South Africa.

Six years ago mineworkers at Lonmin mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, went on a week-long wildcat strike to press for wage hikes. They were demanding R12500 as a minimum monthly salary. At the time most miners were earning about R4000.

As tensions, stoked by union rivalry, rose so too did the levels of violence. Ten people- six mineworkers, two Lonmin security officers and two policemen – were killed in the days leading up to what was to be known as the “Marikana Massacre”.

In the aftermath, some 275 locals were arrested and brought before the courts.

The annual commemoration of the massacre will again be held near the koppie at Nkaneng informal settlement in Marikana. There will be mixed emotions and reactions.

Last year, Amnesty International lamented that no one has been held responsible for the killings in Marikana.

The rights body called on South African authorities to ensure that those suspected of criminal responsibility in relation to the 2012 killings were brought to trial and that the victims and their families receive reparations, including adequate compensation.

In March last year, police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, identified 72 police officers for prosecution in relation to their roles in the events at Marikana.

Years on, the situation in Marikana remains volatile, as evidenced during the murder trial of eight Marikana men convicted of killing Sabata Petros Chale in December 2016.

Chale, 39, was hacked to death by a group of about 200 men in a dispute over the allocation of RDP housing at Marikana’s Phase Two project, also known as Khabangena.

“Marikana is volatile since the massacre in 2012, there is political conflict between the EFF and the ANC,” defence lawyer Eric Marx told the court in mitigation of sentence at the trial.

Judge Ronnie Hendricks sentenced Aubrey Seitsang, 39, Sibonile Sobopha, 32, Herbert Baqhesi, 36, William Nyenyane, 33, Samson Gqwetani, 42, Gift Luveli, 39, Luvo Soyizwaphi, 32, and Mzolisi Mbulana, 48, each to 20 years in jail for killing Chale.

The blood has rarely stopped flowing and Marikana remains rife with division and tension amid a flurry of court cases stemming from the traumatic events of August 2012.

Mineworkers at Sibanye operations in nearby Kroondal indicated they would not be part of the Marikana commemoration and will instead go to work. They claim that union leaders have neglected them, focusing only on workers at Lonmin in Marikana and Impala mines.

“We will be at work. Mathunjwa knew people in Mari- kana and Impala” said one woman, employed at Kroondal, referring to the leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

The commemoration comes at a time when eight policemen and a group of mineworkers are appearing in various courts for incidents leading up to the August 16 killings.

Former North West deputy provincial commissioner Major-General William Mpembe and eight other policemen are appearing in court on 15 counts relating to incidents before August 16. The senior police officer and his lieutenants were arrested in March and released on bail, and are expected to be back in the North West High Court on September 14.

Mpembe, 55, is accused of the murder of Semi Jokanisi, Tembelakhe Mati, Warrant Officer Hendrik Tsietsi Monene and Warrant Officer Sello Ronnie Lepaauku. He is also accused of the attempted murder of Zolile Honxo, Zwelitsha Mtshenwa, Muziwanele Mxinwa, Mzoxolo Zukulu, Sibongiseni Miya on August 13, 2012, in Marikana.

He is further charged alongside retired Colonel Salmon Johannes Vermaak, 53, Constable Nkosana Mguye, 38, Warrant Officer Masilo Mogale, 49, Warrant Officer Katlego Joseph Sekgweleya, 39, and Khazamola Phillip Makhubela, 49, for the murder of Pumzile Sokhanyile.

Mpembe also faces other charges of defeating the ends of justice, contravention of the Ipid Act, as well as contravention of the Commission Act.

Vermaak also faces charges of defeating the ends of justice and contravention of the Commission Act. In this case he is charged alongside Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule.

Van Zyl, Madoda and Pule are accused of defeating the ends of justice and contravention of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act. They allegedly failed to disclose that mineworker Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala died in custody while being transported to Lonmin premises on August 16, 2012.

On the other hand, Anele Zonke, Xolani Nzuzu, Simphiwe Booi, Khanyile Kanyise, Mzoxolo Magidiwana, Samekelo Mkhize, Amanda Nogwaza, Thobile Tyobeni, Mzukisi Soyini, Bongile Mpotye, Zamikhaya Ndude, Sithembele Sohadi, Loyiso Mtsheketshe, Zolile Honxo, Zwelitsha Mtshena, Mziwanele Mxinwa and Mzoxolo Zukulu are facing 26 counts, ranging from murder, to attempted murder, malicious damage to property, robbery, unlawful possession of firearm as well as unlawful possession of ammunition.

Their case was postponed to February 4 next year, pending an application they made at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to review former National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams’s decision to prosecute them.

Nineteen mineworkers were initially arrested but Majeke Nonkonyana and Dlunga Tholakele have since died.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa said most of the recommendations that came out of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, set up to investigate the events in Marikana, have still to be acted upon, and investigations into politicians implicated in the tragedy seem to have been stonewalled.

“Compensation for the families has partially been agreed. The state is digging in its heels on claims relating to general and constitutional damages which include emotional shock, grief and the loss of family life,” the economic rights body said.

“The injured and arrested have not yet been offered compensation they feel is acceptable for wrongful arrest, incarceration and injury.”

14 December 2012

Twenty-eight people, including the gunman, are killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

A 20-year-old man wearing combat gear and armed with semiautomatic pistols and a semiautomatic rifle killed 26 people — 20 of them children — in an attack in an elementary school in central Connecticut on Friday. Witnesses and officials described a horrific scene as the gunman, with brutal efficiency, chose his victims in two classrooms while other students dove under desks and hid in closets.

Hundreds of terrified parents arrived as their sobbing children were led out of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in a wooded corner of Newtown, Conn. By then, all of the victims had been shot and most were dead, and the gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, had committed suicide. The children killed were said to be 5 to 10 years old.
The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, in which a gunman killed 32 people and then himself.

21 November 2012

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A bomb is thrown onto a bus in Tel Aviv, wounding 28 people.

The 2012 Tel Aviv bus bombing was a mass-injury terror attack carried out on November 21, 2012, on a crowded passenger bus driving in the center of Tel Aviv’s business district. The attack was carried out by an Israeli citizen of Arab descent, who remotely detonated an explosive device, which he had hid on the bus in advance. 28 civilians were injured in the attack, among them three who were injured seriously. The attack was not a suicide bombing, and police said they are investigating whether the attacker left a bomb on the bus or threw something on and ran. Police did say that one man was seen fleeing the site, but would not confirm reports that a suspect had been arrested. It was the first mass-injury terror attack in Tel Aviv since the 2006 Tel Aviv shawarma restaurant bombing, in which 11 people were killed and 70 were injured.