NASA Shows Video of Mars Landing
The Curiosity rover, launched by NASA to Mars, transmitted a video on Monday showing the final 2.5 minutes of its landing through the planet’s atmosphere. The footage started with the rover’s heat shield disappearing and ended with dust flying up as the spacecraft was lowered into an ancient crater by cables. The footage was only a low-resolution video, and there will be a full-resolution version sent back to Earth eventually. Instrument chief scientist Michael Malin said that the full video of the landing will be excellent.
NASA has celebrated the Mars landing and has been amazed with the photographs sent back by Curiosity - a mountain during sunset, for example. Mission manager Mike Watkins says that, to their enjoyment, they have completed one stage of the operation and have started another. He added that the photos released so far show a Mars no-one has seen before, so each one is the most stunning he’s ever laid eyes on.
The spacecraft is a mobile laboratory as big as a compact car. It landed on the red planet late Sunday night, following a journey of 352 million miles that took eight months. Its final science destination is Mount Sharp, which rises from the bottom of Gale Crater to near the equator. Curiosity is due to dig into the surface of Mars to analyse its contents and look for life’s molecular building blocks. It will be a couple weeks before it’s moving, as all of the rover’s systems have to checked. In the next few days, however, we can expect to see color pictures and panoramas from it.