Mars satellite captures best Curiosity shot yet

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory couldn't have hoped for a more perfect Mars landing for Curiosity. The complex descent went off without a hitch, and not only did Curiosity start sending postcards from Mars immediately, but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had a surprise for the world, too.

The picture you see here was taken by the MRO from its perch in Mars orbit, where it saw Curiosity deploy its parachute on the way down towards the surface. From NASA:

"NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box. 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."

And here's a larger image, sans cutout:

(Click to enlarge.)

NASA-MSL-MRO-JPL-descent-parachute02.jpg

Image Credit: NASA

Absolutely amazing. Could the start of this mission have come together any better than it has? The only change that would have improved it, to my mind, is a waving, smiling Martian.

Via NASA

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