The Talker: The cost of Curiosity – finding signs of life on Mar - FOX 32 News Chicago

The Talker: The cost of Curiosity – finding signs of life on Mars

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

NASA said its $2.5 billion robotic explorer "Curiosity" is running perfectly after landing on Mars overnight.

Curiosity has already sent back black and white photos from the surface of the red planet, and high-resolution color photos are expected back soon.

Scientists are studying a giant crater, looking for signs that life was ever able to survive.

It's NASA's seventh - and most expensive - landing on Mars, costing every American man, woman and child about $8 a piece.

An astronomer at the Adler Planetarium said that's actually a great deal.

"You look at the cost of Curiosity, about $2.5 billion - that [amount] was stretched out over about an 8 year period," Mark Hammergren said. "For everyone in the U.S., that averages out to about the cost of a latte a year. Frankly, I think that's worth it, to investigate another planet."

Around 1,000 people packed into the Adler Planetarium Sunday night to watch Curiosity make its landing. It was still the talk among space fans on Monday.

Everyone FOX Chicago News talked to agreed: spending $2.5 billion is worth it to see if there was ever life on our planetary neighbor.

They said the benefits will outweigh the costs, and that there is no way to find out if there was life up there, other than to spend the money to investigate. Some even compared cost of Curiosity to government spending – and in relative terms, $8 is not much at all.

Chicago can get its Mars fix at a couple local places. Adler has a model of a previous roving vehicle on Mars, as well as a rock from the red planet.

The Museum of Science and Industry just debuted what it calls a six-wheeled robotic explorer modeled after the real curiosity. It's on display until the end of September.

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