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Curiosity Lands on Mars

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Yesterday, the efforts of 406 NASA team members and 3,500 Jet Propulsion Laboratory workers, with the help of teams from seven other countries, safely landed a one-ton nuclear-powered rover on the surface of Mars. The complex sequence of landing maneuvers required to slow the massive spacecraft went according to plan, at the end of which a rocket-suspended sky crane gently touched Curiosity down. Moments after landing, the rover sent images, confirming safe arrival, and setting off celebrations by team members and viewers around the world -- at home, alone, or together in viewing parties. Gathered here is a collection of images of the landing, along with new images from the surface of Mars. [31 photos]

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An image taken by NASA's Mars science rover Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, Mount Sharp, in this photo released by NASA on August 6, 2012. The rover's shadow can be seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is Mount Sharp at a height of about 3.4 miles, taller than Mt. Whitney in California. The Curiosity team hopes to drive the rover to the mountain to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think hold clues to past environmental change. The image has been linearized to remove the distorted appearance that results from its fisheye lens. (Reuters/NASA-JPL-Caltech)
An image taken by NASA's Mars science rover Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, Mount Sharp, in this photo released by NASA on August 6, 2012. The rover's shadow can be seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is Mount Sharp at a height of about 3.4 miles, taller than Mt. Whitney in California. The Curiosity team hopes to drive the rover to the mountain to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think hold clues to past environmental change. The image has been linearized to remove the distorted appearance that results from its fisheye lens. (Reuters/NASA-JPL-Caltech)
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission members work in the data processing room beside Mission Control at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on August 2, 2012 ahead of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images) #
NASA Associate Administrator John Grunsfeld (left), inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover prior to landing, at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on August 5, 2012. (Reuters/Brian van der Brug) #
About 350 area residents gathered at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Vistor Center to view a presentation on the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instriument and to view NASA's coverage of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) landing. (NASA/Goddard) #
Pat Gunn of New York, watches a live broadcast of the NASA Mission Control center, as the planetary rover "Curiosity" approaches Mars, in Times Square, in New York, on August 6, 2012. (Reuters/Andrew Burton) #
A viewing Party at Griffith Observatory, in Los Angeles, California. Science lovers gathered to watch the live broadcast from JPL in La Cañada Flintridge as they monitor the landing of the Mars Curiosity rover. Original here. (CC BY NC ND Flickr user waltarrrrr) #
Mars Science Laboratory Flight Director Keith Comeaux (left) talks to his team inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. (Reuters/Brian van der Brug) #
The 70 meter communications dish that is tracking NASA's Mars science laboratory at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Station at Tidbinbilla in Canberra, Australia, on August 6th, 2012. (Mark Graham/AFP/Getty Images) #
Steve Collins waits during the "Seven Minutes of Terror", as the rover approaches the surface of mars, inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, on August 5, 2012 in Pasadena. (Brian van der Brug/Getty Images) #
Image captured from a video shows members of the Mars Science Laboratory team celebrating inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility after receiving the first few images from the Curiosity rover, in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. Mission controllers said they received signals relayed by a Martian orbiter confirming that the rover had survived the make-or-break descent and landing attempt to touch down as planned inside a vast impact crater. One of the first images sent from the rover is shown on screen in the background. (Reuters/Courtesy NASA TV) #
Xavier Cabrera (front,center) of New York, celebrates in Times Square while watching a live broadcast of the NASA Mission Control center, as the planetary rover "Curiosity" successfully lands on Mars, in New York, on August 6, 2012. (Reuters/Andrew Burton) #
Image captured from a video shows members of the Mars Science Laboratory team celebrating inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, after receiving the first few images from the Curiosity rover, in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. (Reuters/Courtesy NASA TV) #
From left, blogger Xeni Jardin, her companion Ashley Baker-Lee, VP at City of Hope, and blogger Ellen Snortland, celebrate Curiosity's safe landing on Mars surface at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on August 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) #
Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Engineer Adam Steltzner reacts after the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars, in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. The rover landed on the Martian surface shortly after 10:30 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday (1:30 a.m. EDT Monday/0530 GMT) to begin a two-year mission seeking evidence the Red Planet once hosted ingredients for life, NASA said. (Reuters/Bill Ingalls/NASA) #
Jasper Goldberg (left) and Andreas Bastian watch a live broadcast of the NASA Mission Control center, as the planetary rover "Curiosity" lands on Mars, in New York's Times Square, on August 6, 2012. (Reuters/Andrew Burton) #
Brian Schratz hugs a colleague as he celebrates a successful landing inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Brian van der Brug) #
Bloggers, Twitter and Facebook social media users, on their computers at a desk with the hashtag #CONGRATS written on it using peanuts after the Mars Rover Curiosity successfully landed on the surface of the Red Planet on August 5, 2012 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images) #
Clara Ma, winner of the Mars Science Laboratory naming contest for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (center), hugs friends and family members as Curiosity lands safely on Mars, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) #
This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface of Mars on August 5. The image was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI and shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield falling away, when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft. It was obtained two and one-half minutes before touching down on the surface of Mars and about three seconds after heat shield separation. It is among the first color images Curiosity sent back from Mars. (NASA) #
(1 of 2) An orbiting probe sent to Mars previously by NASA, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), looked down on August 5 and managed to catch a glimpse of the newest member of NASA's robotic Mars team as it parachuted to the surface. If you look closely, at the lower right, you can see two white dots, the upper one is the the parachute, the lower, the spacecraft and backshell. See next image for a closer view. (NASA) #
(2 of 2) A closer view of Curiosity parachuting through the Martian atmosphere, imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on August 5. This image was made about one minute prior to landing. (NASA) #
Dust is blown up on Mars' surface as NASA's rover Curiosity prepares to land in Gale Crater on Mars, as seen by the Mars Descent Imager on the descent. Exhaust from rockets used to suspend Curiosity's sky crane caused a bit of dust to billow up before setting the rover down. (Reuters/NASA-JPL) #
One of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, transmitted to Spaceflight Operations Facility in Pasadena, California. The rover's rear left wheel is visible at lower right. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via Getty Images) #
Curiosity's main science target, Mount Sharp, seen shortly after landing, on August 6, 2012. The rover's shadow can be seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is the the distance is the highest peak Mount Sharp, at a height of about 3.4 miles. The Curiosity team hopes to drive the rover to the mountain to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think hold clues to past environmental change. (Reuters/NASA-JPL-Caltech) #
Pete Theisinger, project manager stands inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. Curiosity landed on the Martian surface shortly after 10:30 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday (1:30 a.m. EDT Monday/0530 GMT) to begin a two-year mission seeking evidence the Red Planet once hosted ingredients for life. (Reuters/Brian van der Brug) #
Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity team member Miguel San Martin, Chief Engineer, Guidance, Navigation, and Control at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, left, celebrates with Adam Steltzner, MSL entry, descent and landing, right, after the successful landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars, in Pasadena, on August 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) #
Many NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory personnel have lucky rituals they engage in to ensure a safe landing. Here, shortly after the successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, Bobak Ferdosi, NASA activity lead for the mission, celebrates with other members of the mission team with the lucky haircut he had done to ensure a safe landing. Original here. (CC BY NC ND/Los Alamos National Laboratory/James Rickman) #
Mars Science Laboratory mission managers, flight controllers, scientists and administrators raise their arms at a press conference after the Mars Rover Curiosity successfully landed on the surface of the Red Planet, on August 5, 2012 in Pasadena. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images) #
Mars Science Laboratory mission manager Jennifer Trosper (left), Mars Descent Imager principal investigator Michael Malin (center) and MSL deputy project scientist Joy Crisp speak at a press conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, on August 6, 2012. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images) #
A view of the landscape to the north of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the afternoon of the first day after landing. (The team calls this day Sol 1, which is the first Martian day of operations; Sol 1 began on August 6, 2012.) and transmitted to the Spaceflight Operations Facility at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, on August 6, 2012. In the distance, the image shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. The image is murky because the MAHLI's removable dust cover is apparently coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover's terminal descent. Images taken without the dust cover in place are expected to come in during checkout of the robotic arm in coming weeks. The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems via Getty Images) #
Jennifer Trosper, Mars Science Laboratory mission manager, points out the communications antenna on a model of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity as she speaks during a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, on August 6, 2012. (Reuters/Fred Prouser) #

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