The scary part was: "When the rover's wheels were planted firmly on the ground, the cords were cut and the sky crane flew a safe distance away and crashed."
Damn! How do they do this stuff?!?!?
I was born in the late-1950s, so the space program was a huge part of my childhood. I carried a lunchbox with NASA pictures back and forth to school from 1963 to 1966, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, I was shocked and sad when Apollo 1 caught fire and all inside perished and then again when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after take-off.
The missions to Mars have been less engaging, probably because there have been no manned flights. All of our exploration has been by "rovers" dropped onto the surface, that then roam around and send pictures back.
I'm still amazed at the feat. I am still awed by the notion that something hurtles thirty thousand miles through space, plummets to the surface of an alien planet, and begins to function as if it was rolling around Central Park.
In the early hours of August 6, 2012, I sat with my eyes fixed to the television, awaiting confirmation that Mars rover Curiosity had landed and was safe.
Above is the first image of itself sent to Earth by Curiosity.
NASA rover Curiosity makes historic Mars landing, beams back photos at Yahoo!
Curiosity's Mars landing on track, say scientists at Christian Science Monitor