In a show of technological wizardry, the robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater for the most ambitious dig yet into the red planet's past. A chorus of cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Sunday night after the most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built signalled it had survived a harrowing plunge through the thin Mars atmosphere.
Minutes later, Curiosity beamed back the first black-and-white pictures from inside the crater showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun. It was NASA's seventh landing on Earth's neighbour; many other attempts by the US and other countries to zip past, circle or set down on Mars have gone awry.
The arrival was an engineering tour de force, debuting never-before-tried acrobatics packed into "seven minutes of terror" as Curiosity sliced through the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph.
In a Hollywood-style finish, cables delicately lowered the rover to the ground at a snail-paced 2 mph. A video camera was set to capture the most dramatic moments - which would give earthlings their first glimpse of a touchdown on another world.
And soon after it landed, Mars Curiosity's Twitter page had quirky updates for the world. Read the tweets here: