NASA's video of the Curiosity landing on Mars' 96-mile Gale Crater is embedded at the bottom of this page.
Since NASA didn't equip the Curiosity's onboard Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) with a video camera, the video you see here is actually a stop-motion composite of 297 thumbnail images. MARDI actually captured a total of 1,054 images as Curiosity landed on Mars' red soil, but only 297 of the images were beamed back to Earth on Monday.
The photos received by NASA are admittedly low-quality -- the images have a 192 x 144 resolution -- but NASA believes that as communications improve between the rover and the agency, NASA will be able to distribute full-size, high-quality 1600 x 1200 photos.
NASA admits that the two-and-a-half-minute stop-motion video of the Curiosity landing isn't of the best quality, but the finale definitely packs plenty of drama as the small spacecraft's thrust rockets kick up a significant amount of Martian soil.
"The image sequence received so far indicates Curiosity had, as expected, a very exciting ride to the surface," said Mike Malin, an imaging scientist at San Diego's Malin Space Systems. "But as dramatic as they are, there is real other-world importance to obtaining them. These images will help the mission scientists interpret the rover's surroundings, the rover drivers in planning for future drives across the surface, as well as assist engineers in their design of forthcoming landing systems for Mars or other worlds."
President Barack Obama released a statement via The White House on Monday, lauding NASA of the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars.
"The successful landing of Curiosity - the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet - marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future," President Obama said. "It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination. I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality - and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover."
The Curiosity left Earth aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Nov. 26, 2011. NASA provides more information about its most intelligent Mars rover yet, Curiosity:
"Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance. Later in the mission, the rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover."
Watch the video of Curiosity's landing on Mars below, and let us know your impressions in the comments section at the bottom of the page.