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Mars Science Laboratory

Entry, Descent, and Landing

This images shows the powered descent, crane and flyaway portions of edl
Powered Descent, Sky Crane & Flyaway
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Entry, descent, and landing technologies ensure precise and safe landings. Below are examples of the ways in which the Mars Science Laboratory mission contributes new capabilities.

New Capabilities

Five important entry, descent, and landing innovations for Mars Science Laboratory include:

Mars Science Laboratory Guided Entry at Mars, Artist's Concept
Guided Entry (GNC)
The spacecraft was controlled by small rockets during descent through the martian atmosphere, toward the surface.
This is an artist's concept of the rover and descent stage for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft during the final minute before the rover, Curiosity, touches down on the surface of Mars.
Powered Descent
Again, rockets controlled the spacecraft's descent until the rover separated from its final delivery system, the sky crane.
This black-and-white image shows a large crater and small crater on the surface of Mars in three views, in which the craters are in slightly different positions relative to the middle of each of the three frames. It simulates what the camera might see as it moved horizontally through the atmosphere during descent. A sunflower-petal-like blanket of ejected rocks and soil surround the dark hole of the bright rimmed crater.
Descent Imaging
Descent imaging provided pictures during entry, descent, and landing. It is one of the advanced terrain-sensing techniques that could be used on future missions for the detection and avoidance of surface hazards during descent through the martian atmosphere
This is an artist's concept of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover parachute system.
Bigger Parachute
Like Viking, Pathfinder and the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Mars Science Laboratory was slowed by a large parachute.
This artist's concept shows the sky crane maneuver during the descent of NASA's Curiosity rover to the Martian surface.
Sky Crane
Like a large crane on Earth, the sky crane system lowered the rover to a "soft landing"-wheels down - on the surface of Mars.