The robotic explorer Curiosity's daring plunge through the pink skies of Mars was more than perfect. It landed with spectacular style, said a NASA scientist, describing the first images of its mechanical gymnastics.
Hours after NASA learned the rover had arrived on target, engineers and scientists got the first glimpses of the intricate maneuvers it made to hit the Martian soil safely.
"It's a spectacular image," said NASA research scientist Luther Beegle. The photo, taken from an orbiting Mars spacecraft, shows Curiosity dangling from its supersonic parachute as it descended.
Extraordinary efforts were needed for the landing because the rover weighs one ton, and the Martian atmosphere is very thin, not offering much friction to slow the spacecraft down.
Text and Images: AP
Image: This photo provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shows the gravel on the surface of Mars' Gale Crater where the Curiosity rover landed late on Sunday. On the horizon is the rim of the crater. Part of the spring that released the lens' dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover's wheel. At top left is part of the rover's power supply. The lines across the top are an artifact from the sensor since the camera is looking into the sun.