New "Curiosity Rover" Landing Footage
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NASA's Curiosity rover has transmitted a low-resolution video showing the last 2 1/ 2 minutes of its descent through the Martian atmosphere, giving earthlings a sneak peek of a spacecraft landing on another world.

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NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were also spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting Mars since March 10, 2006:

Curiosity rover
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The "Mars Science Laboratory" or "Curiosity Rover" is the largest payload ever delivered to the surface of a planet.
The amazingly complicated descent and landing strategy is explained very well in this video below:

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First, the atmosphere takes it from 13,000 mph to 2,000 mph. Then a parachute takes it down to 200 mph.   The final, powered-descent stage lowers the craft to 21 feet above the surface, at which point it is lowered by a tether and the rockets detach and crash land elsewhere.   The size of a small car, the craft has a planned mission length of two years, during which time it could travel over 12 miles.  Curiosity's goals are to study the geology and climate of Mars, to determine whether there was once life there, and to prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet.
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