Curiosity’s landing on Mars – a marvel of 21st century engineering – was in and of itself probably the rover’s greatest accomplishment to date. After all, most missions to Mars fail, and Curiosity had to undergo a series of complex and novel procedures in order to make a safe landing on the Red Planet.
In other words, the risky $2.5 billion mission easily could have been a failure. And worse yet, NASA scientists would have to endure “seven minutes of terror” – the time that would elapse before they would know if the landing was a success or failure. We detailed the major challenges the landing had to overcome here, and it is also worth revisiting NASA’s video below.