07/08/2012 08:26 BST | Updated 06/10/2012 10:12 BST

Mars Rover Landing: Curiosity Sends Back Colour Video Of Red Planet Descent (VIDEO)

The £1.6 billion one-ton robot rover the size of a small car, which landed safely on Mars on Monday, has sent back full colour video of the landing.

The 297-frame clip is made up of small thumbnail photos shot during the last 150 seconds of the descent, which created scenes of wild jubilation on Earth.

The six-wheeled rover Curiosity was lowered to the Martian surface on three nylon tethers suspended from a hovering "sky crane" firing retro rockets.

It was the most daring, complex and difficult robotic space mission ever attempted.

For the next 98 weeks - the length of one Martian year - Curiosity will explore a large Martian crater that billions of years ago may have been filled with water.

The nuclear-powered rover is bristling with sophisticated technology designed to discover if the planet may once have supported life.

Curiosity was too big and heavy to cushion its impact with bouncing air bags - the method employed for Spirit and Opportunity.

Instead, Nasa engineers came up with a dramatic landing solution straight out of science-fiction.

After entering the Martian atmosphere at 13,200mph, the craft's descent was slowed by supersonic parachute.

Then the descent stage carrying Curiosity was deployed, firing eight retro rockets to stay airborne and steer itself through the Martian skies.

Finally, Curiosity was lowered towards the surface on the end of three 25ft nylon lines and an umbilical cord for channelling power and data. The purpose of the "sky crane manoeuvre" was to prevent damage by sand and debris thrown up by the retro rockets.

After breaking away, the descent stage was allowed to crash at a safe distance.