I wrote about the Mars Science Laboratory mission when it launched back in November, and a short while ago the Curiosity rover successfully landed on the Martian surface and sent back some early photos.
There’s a dust cap still on the lenses and you can see some dirt (regolith) kicked up by the descent part of the landing. These are just the first low-resolution images from what will almost certainly be a multimedia barrage, given that the Curiosity rover is carrying not one but two 720p HD video cameras.
One great thing about the whole mission is that Mars orbiters like Odyssey and MRO are relaying the information sent by Curiosity for relay back to Earth. There’s a car-sized, nuclear-powered robot on the surface of Mars sending information (soon to be huge volumes of information) up to artificial, orbiting satellites which will then redirect it across the vast chasm of interplanetary space for consumption back on Earth. The achievement alone gives me pause, and hopefully what it learns will be even more spectacular.