Early Monday morning, NASA’s $2.5 billion Curiosity rover safely landed on Mars after eight months of interplanetary travel. The car-sized, one-ton rover now begins a two-year mission of exploration and discovery as it roams the surface of the red planet.

Rather than rely upon traditional landing systems, NASA opted for a tricky maneuver where Curiosity was lowered to the surface by a sky crane that hovered above on eight retro rockets. Fortunately, the landing went off without a hitch and the rover sent back photos proving that it successfully touched down within the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater.

The plutonium-powered rover will now spend at least the new two years examining rocks within the crater, looking for evidence that Mars may have once contained life.

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