Update: We’ve replaced the video with a newer version that’s higher quality. Check it out!
Sometimes when you look around and consider the everyday world, it feels a little like you’re living in the future. For example, take modern phone technology. They’ve ceased to be boxy devices mounted to the wall in your kitchen, permanently bound to a single spot by a tether. Now phones have essentially become pocket-sized computers that go everywhere with you, and place nearly unlimited access to any kind of information you desire at your fingertips. That’s some science fiction stuff right there.
The Mars Curiosity rover falls into this category as well. First off, it’s a robot. If that isn’t cool enough all on its own, its mission is to explore the surface of another planet to determine if it could have supported life, and to set the stage for possible human exploration. That sounds eerily similar to the plot of countless science fiction movies. Hell, that’s half the plot of Prometheus right there. Check out this video from Curiosity.
The Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is a high-resolution camera that was pointing downward as Curiosity was being lowered to the ground by the sky crane. The pictures have been sent back to Earth, and this clip was made from them. Again, this is something that could have come straight out of a science fiction film. You see the surface rushing up at the camera, the dust of the surface boiling up as touchdown approaches, and the landing gear lower.
Here’s another quick video, this one of Curiosity’s heat shield crashing down onto the surface of Mars, where a massive cloud of dust erupts upon impact.