After a 254 day, 354 million mile cruise through space, NASA’s Curiosity rover has successfully landed on the surface of Mars. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California confirmed touchdown at 10:32 pm PDT, based on data sent to Earth from the Mars Odyssey spacecraft which orbited overhead and watched as Curiosity performed its entry, descent, and landing phase.
By all accounts, the landing was “picture-perfect”, with everything happening exactly as the mission team had hoped. The first low-resolution black-and-white thumbnail images began pouring in within minutes of confirmation that the one-ton Curiosity rover landed safely inside its target destination at Gale Crater.
NASA expects to begin receiving full-color, hi-resolution images from Curiosity in the coming days when the rover’s mast, carrying high-resolution cameras, is deployed. These first images from Curiosity were taken from the front and rear Hazard-Avoidance cameras, and serve to visually confirm two important details to the mission team: That Curiosity landed safely on the surface, and that the rover landed on what appears to be a flat landscape littered with gravel instead of giant boulders.
All photos credit: NASA