The Mars rover Curiosity safely landed on the Red Planet and NASA has received its first dispatches: A stunning full resolution look at Mount Sharp and a dramatic low-resolution video of its landing.
The video — made up of 292 frames — documents the last two and a half minutes of the descent, which NASA has described as seven minutes of terror. Toward the end of the video, the rover is seen kicking up dust as it lands.
NASA's Joy Crisp said beyond the awe factor, what's important is that the two images sent by the rover show that it has a clear path to explore in any direction and once NASA engineers are confident that it has arrived healthy it can begin its years-long exploration of the Gale Crater.
If you haven't been paying attention, the United States made history very early this morning with an audacious landing on the Red Planet that dropped a vehicle the size of a small car at the bottom of the planet's Gale Crater.
We live blogged the announcement from NASA. So keep reading for more details.
Update at 7:49 p.m. ET. Video Of The Landing:
This is the jackpot. The Curiosity Mars Descent Imager captured this video as the rover made its descent to the surface of Mars. It's about 4 frames per seconds:
Update at 7:32 p.m. ET. Rear View:
Here is what Curiosity sees from its rear camera:
The big thing to note is that in both images, the rover seems to have a clear path to explore.
Update at 7:25 p.m. ET. Prediction Comes True:
NPR's Joe Palca sends us this dispatch:
"Malin predicted last Thursday that he would have the precise location by today if everything worked as he hoped. Apparently it did."
Update at 7:24 p.m. ET. Mt. Sharp:
Here's the full-res image of Mt. Sharp we told you about:
It is 6.5 km from the rover.
Update at 7:16 p.m. ET. Photos Of The Landing:
NASA's Mike Malin reveals that they have received images from the landing. We'll get about 220 frames that show the landing at about four frames per second. The rover actually captures 660 images. We will get those later.
NASA will release an animation that will show just how dramatic the landing was.
More importantly, NASA knows where Curiosity landed within one meter, because they were able to match up features from the ground. Once they receive the high-resolution images, they will be able to know within centimeters, said Malin.
Update at 7:10 p.m. ET. 40 MB:
Jennifer Troper, of NASA, says there are 40 MB of data on the ground. The first image they show is of Mount Sharp. We'll add the image, as soon as NASA moves it.
Update at 6:59 p.m. ET. Mohawk Man:
As we wait, it worth noting that Mohawk Man, aka flight director Bobak Ferdowsi has given a long interview to What's Trending. Ferdowsi became an Internet sensation because during live coverage of the landing, his mohawk stuck out. CNN declared him the "star of the Mars landing."
One of the big questions that emerged was whether Ferdowsi was single. In his interview, he says he is indeed taken.
Update at 6:54 p.m. ET. Press Conference:
NASA will host a press conference in a few minutes where they will unveil the photographs. That will be streamed live. We've embedded a player at the top of this post.
Update at 6:51 p.m. ET. A Postcard From JPL:
We just added a dispatch from Joe Palca in separate post. He reports that working around the Martian clock — 24 hours and 39 minutes — really takes a toll.