Early this morning (around 1:32 am EDT), the most advanced Mars rover in the history of the space program touched down on the surface of Mars. The nearly 2,000-pound Curiosity executed a complex series of entry and landing maneuvers and landed safely on the surface, next to a three-mile high mountain.
It's a truly wonderful day for space enthusiasts, science lovers, and Americans in general - a testament to NASA's ingenuity. And around the country, people are celebrating the historic landing.
But nobody could possibly be as thrilled as the men and women directly involved in the Curiosity project.
And NASA HQ's Flickr photostream has a wonderful behind-the-scenes photo album of the moments leading up to and directly following the Mars rover landing. Let's take a look, shall we?
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission Support in the back left. Quiet before the storm:
White House Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren (yellow shirt) dropping in to show his support:
MSL team hours before landing:
The Curiosity Rover now begins a two-year mission to study Mars for evidence of past microbial life.
"This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory," said NASA's Charles Bolden. "President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030′s, and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”