Firstly the successful landing required a multitude of first-ever technology attempts including a supersonic parachute, a rocket powered descent into a "sky crane" and hanging cable rover separation.
(To watch the NASA video "7 Minutes of Terror" click here...) It also required the communication satellite Odyssey (over Mars) to reposition itself to report back on the landing data, which had never been done before, which was also done successfully.
|Screen Shot of NASA-TV 8/6/12|
The first two photos which came in (the image on the left of the two boxes in photo right) were horizon images and wheel images only. It was the third shot (below) where you could see the outline of the rover on the surface of Mars clearly, with the dust from the protective lens cover that will come off later.
|Photo courtesy of NASA Mars Rover Curiosity 8/6/12.|