This jaw-dropping landing process, involving a sky crane and the world's largest supersonic parachute, allowed the spacecraft carrying Curiosity to target the landing area that scientists had meticulously chosen.
The mission control in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California burst into cheers as the rover touched down. Team members hugged and high-fived one another as Curiosity beamed back the first pictures from the planet, some shed tears.
"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," President Barack Obama said in a statement congratulating the NASA employees who had worked on the project.
The scientific community reacted to the achievement with a mixture of elation and relief.