The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars.
The descent stage used rocket engines to reduce its speed and finally at about 35 meters (115 feet) above the surface, the Sky Crane system lowered Curiosity, wheels-down, toward the ground. It landed at the gentle speed of 0.6mph. Soon after landing the rover sent its first set of images of the red planet.
You can see the excitement of NASA engineers as Curiosity’s landing was confirmed.
The UK is celebrating 50 years in space. Ariel 1 was the first satellite to be designed and operated by the UK. It was launched on 26 April 1962 Ariel-1 in cooperation with NASA. The Ariel programme which lasted for several years, with the subsequent launch of Ariel 2 through 6, set the field for several areas of space exploration, like X-ray astronomy, space dust research, space based radio astronomy, solar radiation detection and much more. You can read more about the history of UK in Space here…