Engineers said Friday that the Curiosity rover happened to catch a picture of its own ride crash-landing on Mars — a wink-of-an-eye serendipity that some dismissed as a statistical impossibility, but appears to have been confirmed by a thorough review of landing data.
The final seconds of Curiosity’s eight-month-plus journey to Mars called for a spacecraft to lower the rover to the surface using a “sky crane” — three ropes. The ropes were then cut, and the last of the spacecraft, known as the “descent stage,” cast itself toward the horizon. It crash-landed, on purpose, about 2,000 feet away.
And here is the first panorama of the landing site..