NASA’s rover Curiosity has transmitted a low resolution video showing the last minutes of its landing to Mars.
It was a huge moment of joy and celebration at Nasa’s control center when engineer Allen Chen said: “Touchdown confirmed. We’re safe on Mars.”
Minutes after the landing signal reached Earth at 10:32 PM PDT, Curiosity beamed back the first black-and-white pictures from inside the crater showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun.
The mission team is awaiting for full-resolution frames of the descent — a process that would take some time.
MARDI, which sits on the bottom of the rover’s body and faces downward, is one of Curiosity’s 17 cameras. Its main job was to take footage of the rover’s descent to its landing site — the 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer) Gale Crater — to give the mission team a bird’s-eye view of the terrain Curiosity will explore.
NASA was worried about the landing, called the “seven minutes pof terror” because the nuclear-powered Curiosity weighs almost 2000 pounds and entered Mars’ atmosphere going 13,000 mph.
NASA’s Curiosity mission cost $2.5 billion and took several years to accomplish. The mobile lab weighs a ton and is as big as a car.