Video: Curiosity’s descent onto Mars, in HD

Curiosity descent onto Mars in HD

We’ve been excited about the images that Curiosity had relayed back to mission control only minutes after landing on the Red Planet, and images have since been pouring in ever since. But now we have something even better: the first film footage of Curiosity’s descent onto the Martian surface.

Right from the get-go, you’ll notice the heat shield quickly plummeting to the ground as the craft, dangling under the supersonic, 100-pound parachute, slows down to 200 miles per hour. If you can recall the landing process during the “Seven Minutes of Terror,” ridding the craft of the heat shield exposes the underbelly of the rover and, more importantly, the vehicle’s radar. The radar allowed Curiosity to make precise velocity and altitude calculations to determine when to release the rover from the craft’s shell and parachute, and then initiate jetpacks, that slowed the rover’s descent, letting it hover just about the Martian surface. Around the 33-second mark in the video, the jetpack starts and kicks up Martian dust, as the rover itself is lowered onto the surface using 21-foot-long nylon tethers.

The video, created by a YouTuber, is in fact a chronological compilation of high-resolution images taken by the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) during the rover’s descent. You can find the full album of images here.

MARDI mars curiosity rover

The MARDI descent imager is a fixed-focus color camera affixed onto the rover’s chassis, and pointed toward the ground. The reason for this is that it was intended to be used during the two to three minutes after the heat shield’s separation, which initiated a “start imaging” command, until the rover touched down on the surface of Mars. The camera was built to capture 4,000 raw frames, or 800 seconds of the descent (which is far more footage than was needed), of 1600 x 1200 pixel images at 5 frames per second. Amazingly, the camera only uses three watts during the filming process.

According to a description of MARDI on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website, “MARDI’s primary objectives are to determine where exactly the vehicle has landed and to provide a geologic and engineering-geologic framework of the landing site for early operations.”

Check out the video below:

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.

Where are you going this weekend? These 5 off-road vehicles say 'anywhere'

The body-on-frame SUV is going extinct, but there are still several options for buyers looking to skip the asphalt. To help you sort the good from the bad, we've rounded up the best off-roaders currently available.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.

See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!