Joe Palca describes the mood of NASA Mars scientists in the wake of the landing overnight, what the latest pictures and data are from the surface of the red planet and what mission scientists are going to do next with Curiosity.
Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 12:24 pm
The Mars rover Curiosity.
Credit NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
This photograph brings some perspective to the amazing feat of landing a small vehicle on Mars:
The picture was taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter just as the spacecraft carrying Curiosity deployed its parachute. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment at The University of Arizona, which released the image, explains:
An artist's rendering shows a rocket-powered descent stage lowering the one-ton Curiosity rover to the Mars surface.
The best place to stand in the entire solar system at 1:14 a.m. ET Monday was about 150 million miles away, at the bottom of Gale Crater near the equator of the Red Planet.
Looking west around mid-afternoon local time, a Martian bystander would have seen a rocket-powered alien spacecraft approach and then hover about 60 feet over the rock-strewn plain between the crater walls and the towering slopes of nearby Mount Sharp.