On August 6, 2012 the Curiosity rover will attempt a completely automated landing in Gale Crater on Mars. Curiosity is about five times larger than Spirit or Opportunity, so it can’t just deploy a huge beach-ball and bounce to safety — instead it needs to pull off a much more precise (and dramatic!) landing.
Team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover’s final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.
That video is all the more impressive when you have a mental image of exactly how large the Mars Science Laboratory is:
And here’s another video with less drama (ie. no Inception music) that also shows how Curiosity will take readings and samples.