Curiosity on Mars: NASA identifies a caught-on-photo mystery

NASA's newly landed Curiosity rover is busy taking pictures, roving, and just being awesome on another planet. A few of Curiosity's pictures revealed, for lack of a more appropriate word, some curiosities of their own, including a mysterious shape on the Martian horizon. Just what was it? The tail of a sand worm? A crude tower belonging to an ancient, long-lost other-worldly civilization?

Okay, so it was nothing that cool. Still, Curiosity's cameras captured a pretty incredible moment in Mars history: The impact plume from the crash of Curiosity's sky crane.

To get Curiosity to the surface of Mars safely, NASA engineers had to go through what they termed "seven minutes of terror," where the rover's descent had to be slowed and precisely manipulated by a parachute and a rocket-powered sky crane. Upon release from the Curiosity, the sky crane had to fly away to crash out of Curiosity's range, keeping the rover's path clear. That crash created a massive dust plume, which was captured by Curiosity.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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