National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States opened a new chapter in the history of interplanetary exploration on Monday when its $2.5 billion nuclear-powered robot, Curiosity, beamed back pictures from the surface of Mars.

The one-tonne mobile lab is the largest rover ever sent to Mars, and its high-speed landing was the most daring to date, using a rocket-powered sky crane to lower the six-wheeled vehicle gently to the red planet’s surface.