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.
Screencap of Mission Control at the JPL celebrating the landing of Curiosity.
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.
One of the things the Mars rover will look for is organic molecules that could at least indicate whether there was once life on the Red Planet. But if searching for life in outer space is the goal, many scientists now say we might have better luck elsewhere — specifically one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus.