Check out a few photos as NASA’s Curiosity lands on Mars!
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has touched down on the surface of the Red Planet, completing a 154-million-mile journey, and marking the beginning of a new era in planetary exploration.
The landing wasn’t easy. NASA engineers have actually come to refer to the entry, descent and landing (EDL) of the spacecraft as “seven minutes of terror.”
Curiosity, which weighs a ton and is about the size of a small SUV, approached Mars at about 13,000 miles per hour. When the Martian atmosphere slowed the craft to about 900 miles per hour, a supersonic parachute deployed, slowing the craft even further. But the rover was still descending too quickly to land in one piece.
After the rover separated from the parachute, rocket motors fired, continuing to slow the descent. Then, at about 60 feet above the surface, a “sky-crane” lowered the rover to its new home on the Red Planet.