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'Touchdown confirmed': NASA's Curiosity rover lands on Mars

NASA’s $2.5-billion Mars rover made a dramatic touchdown on the Red Planet, marking a successful end to the most sophisticated Mars attempt in history.

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NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box. The rover is descending toward the etched plains just north of the sand dunes that fringe "Mt. Sharp." From the perspective of the orbiter, the parachute and Curiosity are flying at an angle relative to the surface, so the landing site does not appear directly below the rover.

JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/NASA

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One of the first views from NASA's Curiosity rover is seen in this llow resolution image released by NASA. It was taken through a "fisheye" wide-angle lens on one of the rover's Hazard-Avoidance cameras. These engineering cameras are located at the rover's base. Over the next several days, Curiosity is expected to send back the first colour pictures.

Handout/REUTERS

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One of the first images from the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars Sunday morning. Camera dust cover securely in place, the picture shows the wheel of the rover after it successfully landed on Mars.

Handout/REUTERS

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Telecom engineer Peter Ilott gives orders inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility as the team prepares for the Mars rover’s nail-biting descent. Photo taken at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

Brian van der Brug/AP

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Activity lead Bobak Ferdowsi, who cuts his hair differently for each mission, works inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility.

POOL/REUTERS

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Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, centre, actress Nichelle Nichols (the original O'Hura Star Trek character), and musician Will.i.am, right, of The Black Eyed Peas, pose with bloggers at the NASA Social Media event at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on August 12, 2012, hours before the Mars rover Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

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Jasper Goldberg (left), 22, and Andreas Bastian (right), 22, watch a live broadcast of the NASA Mission Control Centre, as the planetary rover Curiosity lands on Mars, in Time Square, New York.

Andrew Burton/REUTERS

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden closes his eyes as the Mars rover begins its descent to the surface of Mars.

Brian van der Brug/AP

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Steve Collins waits during the "seven minutes of terror" as the Mars science rover Curiosity approaches the surface of Red Planet.

Fred Prouser/REUTERS

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Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Engineer Adam Steltzner reacts after the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars and as first images start coming in.

Handout/REUTERS

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The Mars Science Laboratory team in the Mission Support Area reacts after learning the Curiosity rover has landed safely on Mars.

Handout/REUTERS

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Telecom engineer Peter Ilott (front right) hugs a colleague as they celebrate the Mars science rover Curiosity's successful landing.

POOL/REUTERS

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Julian Anderson (front, centre) of Detroit, celebrates while watching a live broadcast of the NASA Mission Control Centre, as the planetary rover Curiosity lands on Mars, in Time Square, in New York.

Andrew Burton/REUTERS

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Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover deputy project manager Richard Cook (left) and Pete Theisinger, project manager, congratulate their team members after a successful rover landing.

Fred Prouser/REUTERS

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Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover team member Miguel San Martin (centre) waves an American flag after a successful rover landing, as he arrives for a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

Fred Prouser/REUTERS

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Brian Schratz hugs a colleague as he celebrates a successful landing.

Brian van der Brug/AP

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Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover flight controllers and managers (left to right) NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, JPL director Charles Elachi, NASA associate administrator John Grunsfeld, Richard Cook, Pete Theisinger, Adam Steltzner and John Grotzinger stand as they celebrate after a successful rover landing, during a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

Fred Prouser/REUTERS

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NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars' south pole in this artist's concept illustration.

Handout/REUTERS

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Engineers work on a model of the Mars rover Curiosity at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

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