When the Mars rover Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars Sunday night, the NASA team that had anxiously watched its 9-month journey erupted in cheers.
But before the celebration came nervousness, during the so-called “seven minutes of terror,” as the rover began its slow descent to the foreign terrain of the red planet. The gathered scientists closely watched as the rover transmitted a preview of its descent to Mars’s Gale Crater. The stop-motion images give a glimpse of the final two-and-a-half minutes of the landing process, in which the one-ton rover as large as a compact car slowed from 13,000 mph to zero. Hang on: you’ll start to feel the plunge at the 45-second mark.
In a couple of weeks, after NASA ensures all of its parts work, Curiosity will start moving around. Meanwhile, you can see the rover’s first color image of the Mars landscape here.