See through Curiosity's eyes as it descends to the surface of the Red Planet.
It seems like the whole world was watching as Curiosity landed on Mars in the wee hours of Monday morning (Eastern time). Now you can see for yourself what it's like to land on the Red Planet.
The Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) was exposed once the bottom half of the aeroshell that protected Curiosity fell away during the descent. At that time the spacecraft was roughly 5 miles (8 km) up and 2½ minutes from touchdown. This reduced-resolution "flip-book" sequence shows 297 of the roughly 600 images that MARDI recorded at four per second.
At the beginning of the 1-minute-long video, Curiosity is hanging from its giant parachute and still traveling roughly 900 mph. The parachute detaches in the first few seconds of the video, then eight rockets fire, further slowing Curiosity's fall. The scenery changes first as the spacecraft swings beneath its giant canopy and then as the rockets' thrust changes the craft's orientation. You can see dust kicked up by the rockets' exhaust when the rover is about 70 feet (20 m) from the ground. About that time nylon cables (not seen, connected to the top of the rover) gently lower Curiosity to the ground.
By comparing ground features seen in the descent video with orbital imagery, MARDI principal investigator Michael Malin reports that Curiosity landed within Gale crater at 137.4417° E, 4.5895° S — not far from the center of its landing ellipse and near a long row of dark sand dunes.
Watch the final 2½ minutes of the rover's descent here: