First Color Pictures Of Mars Arriving Show Gale Crater Rim

NASA has released the first sets of pictures from the new Mars rover Curiosity.  The rover landed on Mars after traveling more than 360 million miles from Earth.

The image is not clear due to dust, but shows the north wall and the rim of the Gale Crater, which it landed in early Monday morning.

Also released were the last 2 and half minutes of its decent into the Martian atmosphere and its landing, part of the "7 minutes of terror" described by NASA workers.

The picture released Tuesday revealed a rust-tinged, pebbly landscape and the crater rim off in the distance.

Curiosity, a roving laboratory the size of a compact car, landed right on target late Sunday after an eight-month, 352-million-mile journey. It parked its six wheels about four miles from its ultimate science destination - Mount Sharp, rising from the floor of Gale Crater near the equator.

Extraordinary efforts were needed for the landing because the rover weighs one ton, and the thin Martian atmosphere offers little friction to slow down a spacecraft. Curiosity had to go from 13,000 mph to zero in seven minutes, relying on a heat shield, parachute and rockets to slow down. In the final few seconds, cables lowered it to the ground at 2 mph.

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