On August 6th, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission team released a 1-minute 3-second video called "Curiosity's Descent." And as advertised, the video covers the last two and one-half minutes of the Curiosity rover's descent to Gale Crater. The 297 frames which compose the video, shown at 4 frames per second, were taken by the aptly named Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) beneath Curiosity. The images were received August 6th by the MSL mission team.
The video begins with the falling away of the heat shield. The dark dunes at the base of "Mount Sharp" (Aeolis Mons) can be seen directly below. Shortly after the heat shield disappears from view the, image jerks and twists — likely the point when the descent stage released from the aeroshell and fired up its rockets. For the rest of the video the ground gets closer and closer. The last few seconds show the ground soil being blown around by the descent-stage rockets, and then finish with the jostling of the rover as it touches down.
The Mars Science Laboratory / Curiosity rover mission is managed for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C., by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (Caltech). More information about Curiosity is online at www.nasa.gov/msl and mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . You can follow the mission on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .