“A heat shield has to slow the spacecraft from 13,000 mph to about 800 mph. Then a giant supersonic parachute has to unfurl properly to slow the rover further to about 200 mph. Then onboard radar has to detect the surface, and rocket engines aboard a kind of jet pack have to fire, slowing Curiosity to a crawl. Finally, a bridle has to lower the rover from the jet pack to the surface.”
…and it worked. NASA’s Curiosity rover landed a few hours on Mars. It’s the size of a small car. How incredibly cool.