'Insane Coincidence' Confirmed on Mars

Curiosity did snap photo of its own ride
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2012 1:45 PM CDT
These before-and-after images provided by NASA show a plume of dust, left, that disappeared.    (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – Yep, the "insane coincidence" on Mars really happened. Moments after landing on Sunday, the Curiosity rover snapped a photo of its own ride crashing on the Martian landscape, the Los Angeles Times reports. The blink-and-it's-gone lucky shot was confirmed by a member of Curiosity's scientific team in California. "We believe we've caught what is the descent stage impacting on the Martian surface," said Steve Sell. "We're fairly certain that is the impact plume."

The spacecraft that dropped off Curiosity took roughly 20 seconds to fly across the planet's landscape and crash at about 100 mph. The rover snapped the pic 20 seconds later—when the dust plume, slowed by Mars' low gravity, was still floating around. Next up for Curiosity: a four-day "brain transplant" that will allow engineers to prepare the rover's software for surface operations, like driving and using its geochemistry lab for sampling. (Read more Curiosity stories.)

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