Spirit, the first of twin US rovers, landed safely on Mars on Saturday night, embarking on a three-month journey to explore the Red Planet for clues of water and life.
The rover, tucked inside a lander which was wrapped by cocoon-like airbags, was expected to hit the center of Gusev Crater in Mars, bouncing as high as a four-story building for several minutes before coming to a halt on the Martian surface.
Shortly after the scheduled landing at 11:35 p.m. EST (0435 GMT Sunday), NASA mission controllers said that the rover has signaled back to Earth, indicating it has settled down successfully.
"NASA's Deep Space Network has received a signal confirming that Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is alive after rolling to a stop on the surface of Mars," NASA said in a statement.
(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2004)