Surface of Mars, 1:31 AM by CURIOSITY

RELATED: The landing, involving a seemingly impossible sequence of complex maneuvers, proceeded like clockwork: the capsule containing Curiosity entered the Martian atmosphere, the parachute deployed, the rocket engines fired, the rover was lowered and, finally, the Curiosity was on the ground. Over the first week, Curiosity is to deploy its main antenna, raise a mast containing cameras, a rock-vaporizing laser and other instruments, and take its first panoramic shot of its surroundings. NASA will spend the first month checking out Curiosity. The first drive could occur early next month. The rover would not scoop its first sample of Martian soil until mid-September at the earliest, and the first drilling into rock would occur in October or November. Because Curiosity is powered by electricity generated from the heat of a chunk of plutonium, it could continue operating for years, perhaps decades, in exploring the 96-mile-wide crater where it has landed. MORE