Curiosity: “I’m safely on the surface of Mars”

If you didn’t manage to catch those ‘seven minutes of terror’ earlier this morning for Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the massive 900kg rover Curiosity, here’s how it worked out. From NasaTelevision

As the Curiosity Rover said on Twitter

Heh.  And the first image from the landing site at Gale Crater. [Images credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

Another with Curiosity’s shadow visible.

A higher resolution image soon followed.

Colour images are expected later in the week.  And as the BBC spaceman Jonathan Amos notes

Scientists warn, however, that this will be a slow mission – Curiosity is in no hurry.

For one thing, the rover has a plutonium battery that should give it far greater longevity than the solar-panelled power systems fitted to previous vehicles.

“People have got to realise this mission will be different,” commented Steve Squyres, the lead scientist of the Opportunity and Spirit rovers put on the surface in 2004.

“When we landed we only thought we’d get 30 sols (Martian days) on the surface, so we had to hit the ground running. Curiosity has plenty of time,” he told the BBC.

Initially, the rover is funded for two Earth years of operations. But many expect this mission to roll and roll for perhaps a decade or more.