Two blast marks from the descent stage's rockets can be seen in the center of this image. Also seen is Curiosity's left side. This picture is a mosiac of images taken by the rover's naviagtion cameras.
A color image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the pebble-covered surface of Mars. This panorama mosaic was made of 130 images of 144 by 144 pixels each. Selected full frames from this panorama, which are 1,200 by 1,200 pixels each, are expected to be transmitted to Earth later.
A panoramic photograph shows the Curiosity rover's surroundings at its landing site inside Gale Crater. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen to the left, and the base of Mount Sharp is to the center-right.
The Curiosity rover at its landing site inside Gale Crater. The image was taken from the rover's navigation cameras.
An image of Gale Crater taken by the Curiosity rover also shows part of the rover's deck. The rim of Gale Crater is the lighter colored band across the horizon.
A partial view of a 360-degree color panorama of the Curiosity rover's landing site on Gale Crater. The panorama comes from low-resolution versions of images taken Thursday, August 9, with a 34-millimeter mast camera. Cameras mounted on Curiosity's remote sensing mast have beamed back fresh images of the site.
NASA's Curiosity rover took this self-portrait using a camera on its newly deployed mast.
A close-up view of an area at the NASA Curiosity landing site where the soil was blown away by the thrusters during the rover's descent on August 6. The excavation of the soil reveals probable bedrock outcrop, which shows the shallow depth of the soil in this area.
This color full-resolution image showing the heat shield of NASA's Curiosity rover was obtained during descent to the surface of Mars on Monday, August. The image was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI and shows the 15-foot diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet from the spacecraft.
This first image taken by the Navigation cameras on Curiosity shows the shadow of the rover's now-upright mast in the center, and the arm's shadow at left. The arm itself can be seen in the foreground. The "augmented reality" or AR tag seen in the foreground can be used in the future with smart phones to obtain more information about the mission.
This is a composite image made from two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on the rover, which are located on its "head" or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover's descent stage thrusters.
The color image captured by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, August 7, has been rendered about 10% transparent so that scientists can see how it matches the simulated terrain in the background.
This image comparison shows a view through a Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA's Curiosity rover before and after the clear dust cover was removed. Both images were taken by a camera at the front of the rover. Mount Sharp, the mission's ultimate destination, looms ahead.
The four main pieces of hardware that arrived on Mars with NASA's Curiosity rover were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image about 24 hours after landing.
This image is a 3-D view in front of NASA's Curiosity rover. The anaglyph was made from a stereo pair of Hazard-Avoidance Cameras on the front of the rover. Mount Sharp, a peak that is about 3.4 miles high, is visible rising above the terrain, though in one "eye" a box on the rover holding the drill bits obscures the view.
This view of the landscape to the north of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on Monday afternoon, the first day after landing.
NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Sunday. The rover landed early on August 6 (ET).
This is one of the first pictures taken by Curiosity after it landed. It shows the rover's shadow on the Martian soil.
Another of the first images taken by the rover. The clear dust cover that protected the camera during landing has popped open. Part of the spring that released the dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover's wheel.
This image shows Curiosity's main science target, Mount Sharp. The rover's shadow can be seen in the foreground. The dark bands in the distances are dunes.
Another of the first images beamed back from NASA's Curiosity rover on August 6 is the shadow cast by the rover on the surface of Mars.
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover, shown in this artist's rendering, touched down on the planet on August 6.
Water-ice clouds, polar ice and other geographic features can be seen in this full-disk image of Mars from 2011.
This image was captured in 1976 by Viking 2, one of two probes sent to investigate the surface of Mars for the first time. NASA's Viking landers blazed the trail for future missions to Mars.
The Valles Marineris rift system on Mars is 10 times longer, five times deeper and 20 times wider than the Grand Canyon. This composite image was made aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which launched in 2001.
The Nili Fossae region of Mars is one of the largest exposures of clay minerals discovered by the OMEGA spectrometer on Mars Express Orbiter. This image was taken in 2007 as part of a campaign to examine more than two dozen potential landing sites for NASA's new Mars rover, Curiosity, also known as the NASA Mars Science Laboratory.
NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander descends to the surface of Mars in May 2008. Fewer than half of the Mars missions have made successful landings.
Phoenix's robotic arm scoops up a sample on June 10, 2008, the 16th Martian day after landing. The lander's solar panel is seen in the lower left.
In 2006, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured a 360-degree view known as the McMurdo panorama. The images were taken at the time of year when Mars is farthest from the sun and dust storms are less frequent.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express captured this view of Valles Marineris in 2004. The area shows mesas and cliffs as well as features that indicate erosion from flowing water.
This view is a vertical projection that combines more than 500 exposures taken by Phoenix in 2008. The black circle on the spacecraft is where the camera itself is mounted.
A portion of the west rim of the Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in 2011. The crater is 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) across.
A photo captured by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor in 2000 offers evidence that the planet may have been a land of lakes in its earliest period, with layers of Earth-like sedimentary rock that could harbor the fossils of any ancient Martian life.
A U.S. flag and a DVD containing a message for future explorers of Mars, science fiction stories and art about the planet, and the names of 250,000 people sit on the deck of Phoenix in 2008.
A rock outcrop dubbed Longhorn and the sweeping plains of the Gusev crater are seen in a 2004 image taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.
Although it is 45 kilometers (28 miles) wide, countless layers of ice and dust have all but buried the Udzha crater on Mars. The crater lies near the edge of the northern polar cap. This image was taken by NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter in 2010.
NASA's Opportunity examines rocks inside an alcove called Duck Bay in the western portion of the Victoria crater in 2007.
Pictured is a series of troughs and layered mesas in the Gorgonum Chaos region of Mars in 2008. This photo was taken by Mars Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor.
An image captured in 2008 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows at least four Martian avalanches, or debris falls, taking place. Material, likely including fine-grained ice and dust and possibly large blocks, detached from a towering cliff and cascaded to the gentler slopes below.
This 2008 image spans the floor of Ius Chasma's southern trench in the western region of Valles Marineris, the solar system's largest canyon. Ius Chasma is believed to have been shaped by a process called sapping, in which water seeped from the layers of the cliffs and evaporated before it reached the canyon floor.
Pictured is the Martian landscape at Meridiani Planum, where the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity successfully landed in 2004. This is one of the first images beamed back to Earth from the rover shortly after it touched down.
An image from the Mars Global Surveyor in 2000 shows potential evidence of massive sedimentary deposits in the western Arabia Terra impact crater on the surface of Mars.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures a dust devil blowing across the Martian surface east of the Hellas impact basin in 2007. Dust devils form when the temperature of the atmosphere near the ground is much warmer than that above. The diameter of this dust devil is about 200 meters (650 feet).
Soft soil is exposed when the wheels of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit dig into a patch of ground dubbed Troy in 2009.
An image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the floor of the Antoniadi Crater in 2009.
The larger of Mars' two moons, Phobos, is seen in 2008 from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Earth and the moon are seen in 2007 from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. At the time the image was taken, Earth was 142 million kilometers (88 million miles) from Mars.
- NASA analyzing early entry, landing data to help with future missions
- Curiosity landed very near target site, important for relatively tight space
- "It was an impressive ride," said NASA's Allen Chen
- Rover will take days to install software for full movement, analytic capabilities
(CNN) -- Early data shows the Mars rover Curiosity landed with amazing accuracy this week, coming down about 1.5 miles from its target after a 350-million-mile journey, NASA scientists said Friday, perhaps giving planners more confidence about landing spacecraft in tight spaces in the future.
The $2.6 billion rover is on a two-year mission to determine whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting life. It landed Monday and will spend the next four days installing operational software that will give it full movement and analytic capabilities, scientists said at a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Curiosity missed its target entry point into Mars' atmosphere by about only one mile, and most everything in its complicated descent and landing operations -- a spectacle popularly known as the "seven minutes of terror" -- happened on time, including the deployment of the largest-ever supersonic parachute and the heat shield separation.
"From all the data we've received so far, we flew this right down the middle, and it's incredible to work on a plan for (years) and then have things happen ... according to plan," said Steve Sell, who was involved in the powered descent phase.
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"It was an impressive ride," said NASA's Allen Chen, the operations lead for descent and landing.
Tail winds might account for some of the off-target distance, NASA's Gavin Mendeck said, but the actual landing spot was well within the expected range of uncertainty, or the area where the rover could well have ended up.
"With what we learn over the next few months, we'll see if we can chop (the area of uncertainty) back a bit" for future missions, Chen said.
Chen said the early information about the landing is based on only 1 megabyte of data received on the day of the landing; much more information will be received in the coming weeks.
Precision in landing was important because NASA chose a relatively tight area for Curiosity's arrival: The Gale Crater, which contains an 18,000-foot high mountain about 7.5 miles south of the landing site.
The rover's prime target is Mount Sharp, the mountain in the crater. Scientists hope the layers of rock that form the mountain will give them a timeline of the history of Mars.
Though Curiosity's primary science mission has yet to begin, the rover, along with probes in orbit, already have transmitted images. On Thursday, NASA released a sweeping color panorama of the planet's surface, showing the rocky, reddish desert surrounding it and the mountain it will explore in the coming months. The 360-degree view captures the landscape of Gale Crater.
NASA has said photographs like the ones beamed back by the rover, as well as others taken by the probes in orbit, will be used to map a path to the mountain's base.
The rover is built to run for two years, but a previous rover, Opportunity, has been working on Mars since 2004, well beyond the three months NASA planned. Opportunity's sister rover, Spirit, ran from 2004 to 2010.
The rover is installing its full surface operations software after the landing because its computers didn't have room for it during flight. The new software essentially replaces the flight operations programs, which Curiosity now doesn't need, NASA said.
CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.