This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The image from Curiosity's Mars Descent Imager illustrates the roughly circular swirls of dust kicked up from the Martian surface by the rocket motor exhaust. At this point, Curiosity was about 70 feet (20 meters) above the surface. This dust cloud was generated when the Curiosity rover was being lowered to the surface while the sky crane hovered above. This is the first image of the direct effects of rocket motor plumes on Mars and illustrates the mobility of powder-like dust on the Martian surface. It is among the first color images Curiosity sent back from Mars, and was taken about 30 seconds before touchdown.
The original image from MARDI has been geometrically corrected to look flat.
Curiosity landed inside of a crater known as Gale Crater.