Ho-lee crap. NASA actually pulled it off. Curiosity, a rover that’s roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, is now safely on Mars and ready to cruise.
This was a real feat – if , like most normal people, you haven’t been paying attention (as opposed to abbie-normal space geeks like me), this wasn’t your average Mars landing. Which proves we’re living in the future: namely, that “average Mars landing” is not a downright laughable turn of phrase.
Anyways, this one was lowered by a hovering rocket-powered robotic sky crane like something from The Terminator. Guess the bubble-wrap air bag technique wasn’t going to work this time.
I’ll post more later, for now here’s some linkage to sites with a lot more information than I have time to gather.
Oh, and did I mention it also has a rocket-blasting laser? Cool points are off the scale.
UPDATE: An overhead shot of Curiosity under parachute, from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I don’t think you can even measure the cool points anymore…