Nasa has successfully landed its one-tonne Curiosity rover on Mars to study the possibility that this world may once have hosted microbial life.
Nasa scientist Mitch Schulte says it is "another step in the exploration of our solar system... this is the next big thing"
He told the Today programme that what they are hoping to learn from the mission is whether the "conditions were favourable on Mars for life to have ever existed there".
On whether Nasa plans to send a man or woman to the planet in the not too distant future, Schulte said they "definitely are reaching towards that goal".
John Zarnecki, professor of space sciences at the Open University, says there is "a lot of excitement", especially thanks to the "sophistication" of the instruments.
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