The Mars rover Curosity set down safely on the red planet shortly after 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, and began transmitting images back to JPL minutes later.
The room, full of JPL engineers who worked on the project, burst into whoops and cheers to hear the rover had landed successfully following a descent through Mars atmosphere that NASA had dubbed "Seven Minutes of Terror."
Traveling at 13,000 mph, Curiosity had seven minutes to get from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of the red planet - and if one thing goes wrong, it's "game over,'' JPL officials said in a produced by the space agency.
Curiosity is the most technologically advanced rover ever built, according to JPL's website. The purpose of the mission is to determine whether the planet ever was, or is, habitable to microbial life. The rover features 76 pyrotechnic devices and a supersonic parachute. Researchers plan to use Curiosity to study layers in Gale Crater's central mound, Mount Sharp.
NASA began its historic voyage to Mars with a November launch of the Curiosity-carrying Mars Science Laboratory. It lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket back in November.
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