Relive the nail-biting terror and joy of Curiosity’s landing

Tense video of mission control scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California, as they receive word of the Curiosity rover’s descent and landing on the surface of Mars, interspersed with a beautiful animated simulation of the landing.

[Video link]

And here is the first color photo Curiosity transmitted after landing, showing the landscape to the north of the rover:

The image, which shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater, has been tilted to level the horizon. It’s blurry because the camera that took it still bears a transparent lens cap that is covered with dust kicked up during landing. The cap will be removed during the extensive commissioning maneuvers required before Curiosity starts its work.

H/T: Peter Barss.

2012: a space melodrama

In just nine days, NASA will attempt to place its Martian Science Laboratory on Mars. It’s an operation so fraught with extreme technological challenges, the space agency calls it seven mintes of terror. By the time radio signals reach Earth and alert scientists that Curiosity Rover’s perilous descent has begun, it will actually have been over for seven minutes, and rover will be dead or alive on the surface of the red planet.

H/T: Alexis Madrigal