The American Spirit lander is making its final descent onto the surface of Mars in Gusev Crater. The first opportunity to confirm as successful landing will be in a few minutes. Updates as news arrives. Minute-by-minute status reports can be found here as well.
UPDATE: 10:53 CST: Spirit has touched down on the surface of Mars. NASA scientists are now awaiting contact with the lander.
UPDATE: 10:54 CST: NASA has recieved signals from the Spirit lander. FoxNews has more.
UPDATE: 11:00 CST: Space.com has more. NASA has contacted the spacecraft and confirmed a safe landing. Of course, things could still go wrong, but this is a very good sign.
UPDATE: 11:47 CST: NASA has confirmed that Spirit landed in the correct orientation so that the airbags that cushioned its fall can be retracted. Spirit should be retracting its airbags and folding down the petals that shield the rover. The first images from Mars could arrive as soon as 24 hours from now.
UPDATE: 12:10 AM CST: Mars Exploration Rover Project Director Peter Theisinger says we could get images back as soon as tonight…
UPDATE: 12:13 AM CST: This CGI video shows the landing and exploration process and great detail. Be warned, if you’re not using broadband expect to wait a while, and you’ll need QuickTime installed.
UPDATE: 1:20 AM CST: NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft is relaying about 24MB of data from the Spirit lander that includes telemetry and possibly some pictures.
UPDATE: 1:36 AM CST: Images from the lander have arrived. Will post as soon as I can get them.
UPDATE: 1:41 AM CST: CNN is running the images now. It looks like the craft landed rather close to a large rock.
Some of the first images can be seen here. Quality isn’t so good, we should have more soon.
UPDATE: 1:57 AM CST: Here’s a panorama of the landing site. It looks like this should be a very successful mission.