image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona; image source; larger image
Mars Science Laboratory--Curiosity Rover
As Curiosity executed its complex landing on Mars last August, another NASA probe, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, captured this remarkable image. It shows Curiosity, along with its parachute, descending toward the surface. The magnified view on the right has been processed to show the details of the parachute--that's why the surface of Mars looks so dark. To learn more about this image, click here.
Since the Martian atmosphere is thin, the parachute could not slow Curiosity down enough to land safely. Retrorockets fired, and while they were still firing, the Rover was lowered to the surface by cables. Once Curiosity was on the ground, the cables were cut.
For a NASA simulation of Curiosity's landing, see Seven Minutes of Terror. And to watch the Jet Propulsion Laboratory mission controllers during the landing, don't miss control room reactions.
To see the parts of the Curiosity spread out on the Martian surface, click on this JPL image. For more images, videos, and much more, visit Mars Science Laboratory--Curiosity Rover.
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Explore Mars: Curiosity
Visit the NASA site Explore Mars: Curiosity to follow along with the Curiosity Rover as it explores Mars, day by day.