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Mars Rover Landing: Curiosity Lands Early Monday Morning (RECAP)

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has touched down on the surface of the Red Planet, completing a 354-million-mile journey, and marking the beginning of a new era in planetary exploration.

President Obama released the following statement immediately after the landing:

Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.

The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.

Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.

I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.

But landing on Mars wasn't easy. NASA engineers have actually come to refer to the entry, descent and landing (EDL) of the spacecraft as "seven minutes of terror."

Curiosity, which weighs a ton and is about the size of a small SUV, approached Mars at about 13,000 miles per hour. When the Martian atmosphere slowed the craft to about 900 miles per hour, a supersonic parachute deployed, slowing the craft even further. But the rover was still descending too quickly to land in one piece.

After the rover separated from the parachute, rocket motors fired, continuing to slow the descent. Then, at about 60 feet above the surface, a "sky-crane" lowered the rover to its new home on the Red Planet.

According to NASA, the rover touched down at approximately 1:30 a.m. EDT.

Story continues below.

PHOTOS: TENSION AND TRIUMPH AS MARS ROVER LANDS SUCCESSFULLY

Mars Rover Landing Photos
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Despite how late it was be in some places -- including New York -- dozens of landing parties that broadcasted NASA's coverage of the landing were being held around the world.

But don't worry if you're not able to attend one -- HuffPost Science has a recap of the landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity, so scroll down for all the details.

Want to join in? Send us your photos from a Mars rover event--just tweet us at @HuffPostScience, hashtag #marsparty, or email us at MarsCuriosity [at] huffingtonpost [dot] com. We'll be collecting user photos from all over, and yours may be featured!

The HuffPost Science team ran the liveblog from the Mars Curiosity Landing Party at Professor Thom's in Manhattan. Andrew Kessler, HuffPost Science blogger and author of "Martian Summer" gave expert commentary. If you have any questions about the Mars rover landing, tweet us @HuffPostScience, and we'll get answers from Kessler himself.

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Anthony E. Avvenire tweeted: "Check out this screen shot. We did. We did indeed."

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Jennifer Vaughn, Planetary Society COO, and Bruce Betts, director of projects for the Planetary Society, are all smiles following the Mars rover landing.

"I would have to say this is the most exciting. It is as if they did it everyday and sharing it with everyone here, it makes me cry! It's really special." -- Vaughn

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Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history. The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination. Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.

I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.

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This was the first picture of the Martian surface transmitted from Curiosity:

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Listening to the readback of the velocities of landing and remaining fuel reserves shows just how precisely they nailed this landing. It is obvious that they managed every one of these details perfectly. Truly an epic accomplishment. NASA really knows how to do this well.

--Richard Garriott

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"They stuck the landing!"

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Chants in this bar.

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"They just put a one ton truck on a planet 200 million miles away."

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It was very smart of this team to realize the importance of, plan for and accomplish not just the astounding landing, but then immediately send an image back to our immediate needs TV generation.

-Richard Garriott

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Taking pictures beneath the rover to see "see if they landed on a rock or in a ditch," as Kessler puts it. "There is the wheel of the rover safely on the surface of Mars"

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This will go down in history as an amazing accomplishment that will greatly affect the future of humanity. This will help rekindle the belief that we can indeed Dare Mighty Things!

--Richard Garriott

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An image from Curiosity appears on the NASA live stream.

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we are on the ground we must be it is 10.31 all has been going well at JPL everyone is dancing the whole room of planetfest is loudly cheering Another rover is on Mars

We have another success!

--Artemis Westerberg

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--Richard Garriott

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Pandemonium at mission control as touchdown confirmation comes in

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High fives from mission control.

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Rover has landed successfully.

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Sound from JPL is at times hard to understand. Voices are distorted. Loud clapping, we are on target. Parachute deployed. It now only has to slow the hypersonic speed of the spacecraft down.

--Artemis Westenberg, president, Explore Mars

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"We've separated from the shell." Sky crane begins work.

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They are now flying almost level like a plane at Mach 2. (Don’t forget this has alrady all happened 14 minutes before we know about it.)

--Richard Garriott

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