A bit fuzzy, Curiosity's first photo from Mars

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The Independent Online

Nasa's Mars rover has beamed back its first colour image from the crater where it landed and a video of its dramatic descent through the Martian atmosphere.

The image shows a pebbly landscape and the rim of Gale Crater in the distance. The landscape looks fuzzy because the camera's removable cover was coated with dust that kicked up during Curiosity's descent, but it is expected to send back sharper pictures of its landing site soon.

Likewise, the video was a low-resolution sneak preview, as it will take some time before full-resolution frames are beamed back. The full video "will just be exquisite", said Michael Malin of Nasa. As thumbnails of the video flashed on a big screen, scientists and engineers at the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, let out oohs and aahs.

The recording began with the protective heat shield falling away and ended with dust being kicked up as Curiosity was lowered by cables inside a crater.

A high-resolution camera on the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, flying 211 miles above the plummeting Curiosity, took a photograph of the rover dangling from its parachute about a minute from touchdown.