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What Became of the Parachute That Delivered Curiosity to Mars?

NASA illustration

Remember the "seven minutes of terror"? Those tense, breathtaking moments, back in August, between the descent of the spacecraft carrying the Mars Curiosity rover into the Martian atmosphere and the vehicle's (ultimately successful) landing on Mars?

NASA remembers. So it periodically checks up on one of the tools that allowed for Curiosity's safe landing: the parachute that floated Curiosity gently down onto the rocky surface of the Red Planet. Images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have captured the parachute lying in its rocky grave. But they've shown it doing something else, too: shifting its shape.

Photos obtained by the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera show the chute flapping, beautifully and just a little bit creepily, in the Martian wind -- a high-tech instrument turned into a friendly ghost. The seven photos GIFed here were captured by HiRISE between August 12, 2012 -- just after Curiosity's landing -- and January 13, 2013.

Read more at The Atlantic

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