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Curiosity Rover Lands Safely on Mars

Aug 04, 2012

Curiosity touched down at Gale Crater Sunday night, August 5, 2012. As the drama of the landing unfolded, each step proceeded without flaw. The capsule entered the atmosphere at the appointed time, with thrusters guiding it toward the crater. The parachute deployed. Then the rover and rocket stage dropped away from the parachute and began a powered descent toward the surface, and the sky crane maneuver worked as designed.
Two minutes later, the first image popped onto video screens -- a grainy, 64-pixel-by-64-pixel black-and-white image that showed one of the rover's wheels and the Martian horizon. A few minutes later, a clearer version appeared, and then came another image from the other side of the rover.

"That's the shadow of the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars," Robert Manning, the chief engineer for the project, gushed in awe.

Because Curiosity is powered by electricity generated from the heat of a chunk of plutonium, it could continue operating for years, perhaps decades, until it finally wears out.

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