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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Has Landed On Mars, Sends Back 2 Photos

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Monday morning at 1:31 a.m. EDT, NASA’s Curiosity rover officially touched down on the surface of Mars. Best of all, everything checks out. Early word is that everything is fine with the rover, so fine that if you were watching NASA’s live feed of the event, what you saw were a lot of hard-working NASA engineers celebrating and hugging while completely ignoring all the data appearing on their computers and calls for attention coming from their superiors. What you saw was this…

NASA engineers celebrate Curiosity’s successful landing.

After touchdown the rover’s official Twitter account tweeted, “I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!” Wait, is the rover making sex jokes?

While the twitter account cranked out double entendres and the NASA celebrated, the Curiosity rover sent back its first pictures. Right now there’s only two and here they are…

Curiosity’s wheel on the ground.

Curiosity’s shadow on the Martian surface.

So why aren’t these pictures better? Why aren’t they clearer? There are a couple of factors involved but mostly it’s a problem of dust. These were taken mere seconds after the Curiosity’s touch down and since Mars is really dusty, that touchdown kicked up a LOT of dust. It’s going to take awhile for that dust to settle down and once it does Curiosity should start sending back even better images.

UPDATE! Late last night after the dust around it had settled, the Curiosity sent back a third picture. Here it is…

Curiosity’s wheel without the haze of dust.

Perhaps even more exciting than the actual landing is how much attention this event has actually gotten. Apparently so many people have been trying to watch NASA’s live stream that it completely crashed all of their websites. The UStream feed I was watching topped out at a whopping 11.5 million views by the time the Curiosity touched down… even though it happened in the middle of the night.

We’re back on Mars and with the most high-tech equipment ever successfully landed on an alien planet. Stick around and we’ll let you know what they find.

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