Curiosity is NASA’s latest rover currently on its way to Mars and slated to land on August 5th of this year. Because of its size and the thin Mars atmosphere, parachutes won’t be able to slow it down enough for a smooth touch down. Instead, the rover will be winched down from a jet propelled platform, kind of like a search and rescue technician is winched down from a helicopter.
There is a great animation of Curiosity’s predicted approach and landing procedures on YouTube and I’ve embedded it below. It’s about 11 minutes but it’s really interesting and definitely worth the watch.