Curious for more spectacular photos from Mars? Well, you’ll have to wait when the new Curiosity Rover lands on Mars August 2012.
Unlike past descent, the Curiosity rover is the first Mars mission ever built to use a guided entry, meaning it will steer itself through the Martian atmosphere like a guided missile, allowing it to hit a much smaller landing target than ever before. “We will either land in Disneyland,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., “Or in the parking lot next to Disneyland,”
NASA has decided to indeed make the descent almost a Disney ride by attaching a downward-pointing camera on the front-left side of Curiosity that will beam back to Earth high-resolution video [video, not still images!] of the landing, gicing adventure fans around the world an unprecedented sense of riding a spacecraft to a landing on Mars.
Compared to previous rovers, Curiosity is huge, about the size of a mini SUV. Its goal is to help determine whether Mars is or was ever habitable to microbial life.[PopSci]