The Mars rover Curiosity, from launch to landing

From launch to landing, here's how the Curiosity rover got to Mars and what it's seeing.

Three generations of rovers: The Curiosity is on the right

Spacecraft engineers Matt Robinson, left, and Wesley Kuykendall stand with three generations of Mars rovers developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. The setting is JPL's Mars Yard testing area. The Curiosity is 10 feet long.

The Nov. 26, 2011 liftoff of the Atlas V rocket carrying the Curiosity

With NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft sealed inside, the rocket carrying the Curiosity blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The car-sized rover has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.

How the Curiosity landed on Mars after a 350-million-mile trek

This timeline shows mission milestones surrounding the landing of the Mars rover as it dropped to the planet's surface early on Aug. 6, 2012, Eastern Daylight Time.

After landing, hardware was scattered in several places on the surface of Mars

The four main pieces of hardware that arrived on Mars with NASA's Curiosity rover were spotted from above by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Orbiter captured this image about 24 hours after Curiosity touched down.

A look at the Curiosity's deck (and the Martian landscape) taken on Aug. 7, 2012

This full-resolution image shows part of the Curiosity's deck taken from one of the rover's navigation cameras looking toward the back left. On the left, part of the rover's power supply is visible. To the right of the power supply is the pointy low-gain antenna and side of the paddle-shaped high-gain antenna for communications directly to Earth. The rim of Gale Crater is the lighter colored band across the horizon.

A self-portrait of the Curiosity sitting in Gale Crater

This full-resolution self-portrait shows the deck of the Curiosity rover from its Navigation cameras. The back of the rover can be seen at the top left of the image, and two of the rover's right side wheels can be seen on the left. Part of the pointy rim of Gale Crater forms the lighter colored strip in the background.

The pebble-covered Martian surface in color

This full-resolution color image from the Curiosity shows the pebble-covered surface of Mars. It was taken by the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) several minutes after Curiosity touched down on Mars. For scale, the camera is about 30 inches above the surface.

The first panorama photo in color of the Gale Crater landing site

This is the first 360-degree panorama color photo of the Gale Crater landing site taken by the Curiosity rover. The panorama was made from thumbnail versions of images taken by the Mast Camera on Aug. 9, 2012 Eastern Time.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.