During landing, the rover plunged through the thin Martian atmosphere, with the heat shield first, at a speed of over 12,000 mph (about 20,000 kph). A parachute and powered descent slow the rover down to about 2 mph (three-fourths of a meter per second). A large sky crane then lowered the rover on three bridle cords to land softly on six wheels. Landing on Mars is hard. Read all about the rover’s harrowing entry, descent and landing.