back to article Curiosity snapped mid-flight by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA has released the first photo of the Curiosity rover in flight, after the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) HiRISE camera snapped a shot of the spacecraft parachuting down to the Martian surface. The MRO was 340km away from Curiosity as its parachute was deployed, slowing the craft from around 900mph to 180mph, before …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well played Ladies and Gentlemen. Congrats.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    What can I say?

    I am absolutely, stunningly, gobsmackingly impressed.

    I've been waiting for this since I watched Neil Armstrong take that first giant leap... roll on the first (wo)man on Mars. And then out to the asteroid belt and the rings of Saturn, where the water is free and the sun shines all day!

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  4. Petrea Mitchell

    The conspiracy theorists are right!

    Now we have ironclad PROOF that there is a TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED civilization operating on Mars!

  5. Mr Young


    And I want a nuclear powered modem as well now

  6. JeffyPooh

    "...a couple of megabytes per second."

    " should be able to upload a couple of megabytes per second."

    Bloody hell. That's at least twice the data rate I get from my household Internet connection.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: "...a couple of megabytes per second."

      That's all well and good, but the latency must be horrible. 840.000 ms ping. No wait, woops, ping is round-trip ofcourse, so 1.680.000 ms ping. That'll kill your browsing fast

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: "...a couple of megabytes per second."

        Nah. Just set a mother of an MTU :).

        Basically, you have the satellite problem here - if you wait for an ack before you commence transmission you'll have missed the window. Instead you work out when the relay will be in range and set it to burst. You do the same on the Earth side, and just make sure you catch the acks coming in later (otherwise you'll just have to do it again).

        Long distance comms is a whole different ballgame, and I think they have this down pat. Hats off - a job *seriously* well done.

  7. GBE

    Don't _say_ things like that: "Curiosity snapped mid-flight".

    Even though I watched the landing "live" last night, it still made me

    queasy for a split-second second when I read the headline: "Curiosity

    snapped mid-flight". That's _not_ a phrase you would have wanted to

    use at JPL last night...

    1. Lee Duckworth

      Re: Don't _say_ things like that: "Curiosity snapped mid-flight".

      The Elvis looking guy would have gone crazy if someone had said that!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Don't _say_ things like that: "Curiosity snapped mid-flight".

        I thought he looked more like Michael Madsen myself (think 'Bud' from Kill Bill)... but either way I wouldn't want to be the person who put him in a bad mood!

        I loved his response to the second question of the first press conference... some twit (without a sense of occasion) asking a technical question about what image compression they used to back the photos. " Yeah... I absolutely can't answer that. My colleague can fill you in later. Next question!"

        I was glad to see that the Reg's man asked a question that elicited better replies (mission / Rover life time, time scale)... The engineers comparing the mission to a family's drive across the US, but with four hundred scientists asking if they can stop and look at things along the way.

    2. Mr Young
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't _say_ things like that: "Curiosity snapped mid-flight".

      I'm quite convinced the word 'snapped' featured regularly during design reviews for the parachute bit it least? I'll wait until I see the pics then I'll really BELIEVE it

    3. David Given

      Re: Don't _say_ things like that: "Curiosity snapped mid-flight".

      Work colleague told me that got seriously worried when they saw a headline this morning saying 'Mars rover in big crater on Mars'...

  8. RegGuy1 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    A stunning achievement by all those overweight scientists

    Amazing. I went to bed last night worried that we get get the Beadle 2 treatment. But luckily (or rather because of a well planned and executed project) the EDL was a complete success.

    But to call all those scientists and engineers fat (actually "Round 400 scientists and 300 engineers") is a bit offensive.

    Oh, unless you meant 'around.'

    Well done NASA.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: A stunning achievement by all those overweight scientists

      "gravity challenged" might fit the situation better anyway :)

    2. andy k O'Croydon

      Re: A stunning achievement by all those overweight scientists

      Someone sent Beadle to Mars? [obligatory hand joke]

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Allegedly there's video from the Skycrane of the actual touchdown

    if true, that should be fascinating to see. But in any event, a perfect mission thus far.

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge



    1. Spotfist

      Re: NUKES IN SPACE!!?!

      Bit too late for that now, we've sent loads of em before! Probably more in space then we have on land back home lol

    2. uncle sjohie

      Re: NUKES IN SPACE!!?!

      How about we shoot off those green types in the next rocket to mars?

    3. Silverburn

      Re: NUKES IN SPACE!!?!

      The nuke reactor is's that hydrazine spewing from the now-crashed sky crane you've gotta watch out for.

      1. KakersUK

        Re: NUKES IN SPACE!!?!

        "The rover's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) has been operating through the flight to let NASA monitor the potential hazards astronauts making the trip would have to face"

        Yup, like the high toxic hydrazine crash site. I'm no scientist but I assume being in space it won't just dissipated over time? wouldn't that be sort of like saying "Mars colonisation probably won't happen in my life time, so lets leave that mess for future generations!"

  11. Ramiro

    Of all the many *impossible* things that actually happened

    This picture of the parachute phase takes the top spot.

    It's just totally, completely, incredible.

    Cheers all around!

  12. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Why on Mars didn't they...

    ...let that skycrane use up all its hydrazine and then crash? It would have dug a big hole and given the rover an unrivaled view of the sub-surface layers...

    1. MajorTom

      Re: Why on Mars didn't they...

      The skycrane/rocket flew off 400 km before crashing, which indicates to me that it DID use up all the hydrazine. But there would probably be excess fuel or oxidizer, both of which are nasty stuff, so the drivers are staying away from the crash site.

      1. pixl97

        Re: Why on Mars didn't they...

        --The team estimate it would have traveled about 400m

        m != km

        It landed within sight of the drop zone.

        1. Silverburn

          Re: Why on Mars didn't they...

          ahah! So it was you who programmed the beagle trajectory, eh, Major Tom...?

    2. Ru

      Re: Why on Mars didn't they...

      Because what they didn't want huge clouds of sand and grit all over their lovely new rover, nor did they want to drop it into a new hole. They probably also wanted to avoid the risk of the rocket exhaust damaging the rover, or the landing stage falling onto it.

      These are all reasons why it was a sky crane and not just a boring old rocket landing stage.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Curiosity's new Martian home"

    Woah, that left a BIG crater when it landed...

  14. David Glasgow

    Thank goodness for the white rectangle

    ..... Otherwise I would have never known what to look at....

    Nevertheless, good show. A deeply implausible procedure immaculately executed.

  15. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Ohhhh thank $DEITY

    Some news that doesn't rely on the Olympics....

    Now, when does the Ares depart for red Mars?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Miracle? Really?

    I know it's America and all.

    But what did their chosen deity have to do with it?

    And why so amazed the science worked?

    Miracle? - Pffffft !

    Hard science? Yes!

  17. Silverburn

    Raising the bar

    This does raise the question what they'll do next time. Using a sky crane was obviously too easy.

    Maybe we can do a few backflips and loop-the-loops on the descent, then maybe do a commando-style, "tank-drop" from the back of a low flying aero? While doing mach 1? (which isn't that much slower than on Earth) Or maybe some sort of HALO?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Raising the bar

      Sending a blimp to be inflated when it hits the upper Martian atmosphere, which then gently coasts down to the surface.

    2. A K Stiles

      Re: Raising the bar

      Next they'll get the SPB to help them make it out of paper!

  18. Anonymous IV
    Thumb Up


    Playmobil - or it didn't happen!

  19. markw:

    ... "they want to move the rover a meter or so"

    Gas meters ?

    Parking meters?

    Define your units...

  20. David 39

    "uses plutonium-238 to generate around 100w of power via a thermocoupling unit"

    pah 1.21 jigawatts would have that little bastard whizzing around

  21. The Axe

    Heat shield too.

    The photo needs updating as a larger version of it shows the heat shield falling away too.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hydrazine. Icky stuff.

    $orkplace (a space lab) has an instrument recovered from the first Ariane 5 launch (the one which blew up).

    After falling several miles to earth, being dug out from under 8 feet of swamp mud, washed multiple times and sitting on a shelf for 12 years, it still has enough traces of hydrazine on it to be considered a toxic hazard.

    1. saundby

      Re: Hydrazine. Icky stuff.

      "$orkplace (a space lab) has an instrument recovered from the first Ariane 5 launch (the one which blew up).

      After falling several miles to earth, being dug out from under 8 feet of swamp mud, washed multiple times and sitting on a shelf for 12 years, it still has enough traces of hydrazine on it to be considered a toxic hazard."

      Toxic hazard for a certain standard of toxic hazard, I expect. The standard being what could be a problem with an impressionable jury rather than what will give you burns or cause lung problems.

      It being an instrument, the extra caution may also be a result of possible reservoirs of material inside that could be opened up later.

      Also, it may be UDMH which is considered a carcinogen, though I thought the Ariane V used MMH.

      Anyway, hydrazine can be worked with, and can be relied on in ways that other propellants can't be. The level of what's considered an unreasonable hazard in the office is different than on a launch pad or test stand (one does not normally expect hydrazine burns in the office.) ;)

  23. MrT


    ... was a decent game...

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