This is a full-resolution version of the NASA Curiosity rover descent to Mars, taken by the MARDI descent imager. As of August 20, all but a dozen 1600×1200 frames have been uploaded from the rover, and those missing were interpolated using thumbnail data. The result was applied a heavy noise reduction, color balance, and sharpening for best visibility. The video plays at 15fps, or 3x realtime. The heat shield impacts in the lower left frame at 0:21, and is shown enlarged at the end of the video. Image source.
What the video doesn’t show is final sequence of the landing known as the “skycrane” maneuver, which is when the rover hovers about 25 feet above Mars and is lowered by the skycrane. This meant lower amounts of dust and debris were disturbed by the landing, reducing potential damage to the rover. The landing sequence is known as the 7 minutes of terror. (Watch somebody from NASA explain the 7 minutes of terror – note: at 3:17 you will be more excited than any kid at christmas)
Watch NASA team members celebrate confirmation of Curiosity’s first drive on Mars yesterday, 22 August 2012.
If you’d like to live the rover landing experience, try this. This genius game for the Xbox takes you through the various stages from the landing corridor to the sky crane maneuver. The graphics are nothing to write home about but the concept is geekerific