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Descent to Mars: VIDEO

Mars

The Curiosity probe's landing, in 'HD':

This is a full-resolution version of the NASA Curiosity rover descent to Mars, taken by the MARDI descent imager. As of August 20, all but a dozen 1600x1200 frames have been uploaded from the rover, and those missing were interpolated using thumbnail data. The result was applied a heavy noise reduction, color balance, and sharpening for best visibility.

The video plays at 15fps, or 3x realtime. The heat shield impacts in the lower left frame at 0:21, and is shown enlarged at the end of the video.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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New Images, Video from Mars Show Towering Mountain, Precipitous Descent on to Surface: VIDEO

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New images and video have been presented by NASA from today's historic landing on the Martian surface by the car-sized rover Curiosity.

One new image shows the rover's wheels and shadow with Mt. Sharp in the background. The mountain is Curiosity's main scientific destination and is three miles high and four miles away. The rover will eventually be analyzing its geology.

The other fascinating piece of media released today is a low-res video consisting of 297 images shot by the probe as it landed which show the heat shield falling away and then a cloud of dust kicked up as jets fired to cushion its blow on the planet.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Mars Orbiter Sees 'Curiosity' Probe as it Lands by Parachute: PHOTO

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A spectacular photo of NASA's 'Curiosity' probe on its descent to Mars was captured by the  Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which began circling the red planet in 2006.

Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box; the inset image is a cutout of the rover stretched to avoid saturation. The rover is descending toward the etched plains just north of the sand dunes that fringe "Mt. Sharp." From the perspective of the orbiter, the parachute and Curiosity are flying at an angle relative to the surface, so the landing site does not appear directly below the rover.

The parachute appears fully inflated and performing perfectly. Details in the parachute, such as the band gap at the edges and the central hole, are clearly seen. The cords connecting the parachute to the back shell cannot be seen, although they were seen in the image of NASA's Phoenix lander descending, perhaps due to the difference in lighting angles. The bright spot on the back shell containing Curiosity might be a specular reflection off of a shiny area. Curiosity was released from the back shell sometime after this image was acquired.

Incidentally, this is NOT the first such photograph.

Back in May 2008 I published a shot taken from the Mars Orbiter of the previous rover, the Phoenix Mars Lander, on its descent by parachute. Check it out HERE.


NASA Curiosity Probe Makes Historic Landing on Mars, Beams Back Photos: VIDEO

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NASA's probe 'Curiosity' completed its trip to Mars, landing on the red planet at approximately 1:30 am ET last night:

NasaThe robotic lab sailed through space for more than eight months, covering 352 million miles (566 million km), before piercing Mars' atmosphere at 13,000 miles per hour -- 17 times the speed of sound -- before starting its descent.

Moments after landing, Curiosity beamed back its first three images from the Martian surface, one of them showing a wheel of the vehicle and the rover's shadow cast on the rocky terrain.

The probe and its supersonice parachute, backpack, and 'sky crane' survived a complex sequence of events that scientists had dubbed the "seven minutes of terror" before setting down in the Gale Crater beside a mountain on the Martian surface.

Scientists rejoiced upon learning of their success.

Here's a liveblog from the Guardian chronicling last night's sequence of events.

The rover's full condition is yet unknown, but it did beam back a series of photographs, two of which contained images of its own wheel (above), and shadow (below).

More images here.

Watch Al Jazeera's report on the landing, and NASA's news conference, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror: VIDEO

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The Mars rover Curiosity will touch down tomorrow morning. It is the size of a big sedan, and it has been traveling through the near-vacuum of intrastellar space for eight months. If it lands safely, it will probe the rocks and dirt in and around Gale Crater in the hope of finally establishing whether Mars was ever a suitable environment for life. It will be a magnificent achievement; one all of humanity will be able to boast about for millenia.

But -- have you ever tried landing a sedan-sized rover on a planet that resides at an average of 225 million kilometers from Earth? On a planet with an atmosphere so thin that parachutes won't be sufficient to slow its descent? It's not easy. Ian Sample, of The Guardian, has written an excellent explanation of the process by which NASA scientists intend to get Curiosity aground -- an improbable, crazy-sounding sequence of mechanical feats which the involved scientists have begun calling "Seven Minutes of Terror." And NASA has produced a sharp, graphics-heavy video to explain the same thing. Harrowing stuff! Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Curiosity, the Largest Rover Ever Sent to Space, Set to Make 'Grand Entrance' on Mars: VIDEO

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Last November, I posted video of the NASA 'Curiosity' probe as it blasted off to Mars.

This Sunday night, the Mini-Cooper-sized probe will reach the red planet and hopefully begin sending back data that will help determine if there was ever life there.

And who better to tell you all you need to know but William Shatner, AFTER THE JUMP...

The NYT:

“I think this is the Hubble Space Telescope of Mars exploration,” said John M. Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator in charge of the science mission directorate. (He is best known as the Hubble repairman, flying on three space shuttle missions to refurbish and upgrade the telescope.) “This is the first time that we have a real analytical laboratory heading to the surface.”

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