Curiosity’s dramatic landing on Mars was the most difficult and nail-biting part of the whole mission. This 60-second video shows what it took to touch down successfully.

Video Transcript

How hard is it to land Curiosity on Mars? On a scale from one to 10, landing on Mars is a 20!

Curiosity is the biggest, most capable Mars rover yet, and needs a new type of landing to reach the ground safely.

In this seven-minute trip to the surface of Mars, we have to slow down from over 13,000 miles an hour down to zero.

Hundreds of things have to go just right:

  • Curiosity must hit the atmosphere at just the right angle
  • Endure extreme heat from friction as it descends through the atmosphere
  • Open its parachute at just the right time;use radar to know exactly how high it is
  • Free itself from the parachute
  • Perfectly fire eight rocket engines to slow final descent
  • Drop down, dangling on four cables
  • Lock its wheels in place just before landing;and cut the cables right at the moment of touchdown.

And even if we do everything right, Mars can always surprise us.

It's a big challenge, but a big opportunity - to help unlock the mysteries of Mars.