9:17pm

Sun August 5, 2012
Space

Curiosity Landing: "We Are Wheels Down On Mars"

NASA's latest rover, this particular one the size of an automobile, successfully landed on Mars late into the evening Mountian time. Curiosity is safely on the surface and already feeding data back to Earth.

Update 9:21am 08/06/2012

Here's video from Mission Control at the JPL. It starts out tense as this tracks the final moments of Curiosity's descent to the surface of Mars. You can see the looks on the controllers faces as they watch their screens and hope that everything works out well.

Finally though, at around the 5:00 minute mark, is when the rover is approaching the ground and in the sky crane maneuver. Watch as the landing is confirmed and everyone cuts loose as they had succeeded at landing $2.5 billion rover on a planet far, far away.

Video courtesy of PBS NewsHour

Update 6:36am 08/06/2012

As Mark Stencel live blogged last night for the Two Way, the Curiosity rover successfully set down on Mars using the unconventional sky crane.

There was a lot of trepidation around the method which had been described as crazy. After the landing sequence, glibly named as the "Seven Minutes of Terror", controllers could only wait to hear the status of the craft. You can imagine the tension at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). Mark Stencel wrote this in the live blog:

When it comes to visitors like the $2.5-billion Curiosity rover, Mars has been a reclusive, get-off-of-my-lawn host. Of 13 previous attempts to land space probes on the Red Planet over the past four decades, nearly half failed or immediately lost contact.

Those odds were enough to make for a tense scene at mission control in the days and hours leading up the landing. "You can't believe the tension and uncertainty here at JPL," NPR science correspondent Joe Palca reported from the laboratory. "The anxiety just couldn't be denied."

The novel use of the rocket-powered "sky crane" to lower the one-ton robot to the Martian surface only added to the drama.

That anxiety was cut immediately upon the successful report of Curiosity's touchdown. NPR's Joe Palca was at the JPL and captured it for Morning Edition.

The crowd at the JPL erupts into cheering at Curiosity's landing.

There is still more work to be done to ensure that Curiosity is fully functional following the dramatic landing on Mars. One of the rover's functions seems to be 100%, the rover is on Twitter and posted this photo that got so many cheers and the words "We are wheels down on Mars!"

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The latest Mars rover, the Curiosity, will be landing on Mars at 11:30 p.m. MDT. Here's the live Ustream feed from NASA.

Video streaming by Ustream

This feed features commentary and interviews as well as mission coverage. If you are looking for the clean mission feed it can be found here. The Mars Curiosity rover is on Twitter as well (isn't everything on Twitter now?).

The JPL is also live blogging the mission, which can be found here among other landing resources.