This is absolutely incredible. The HiRISE camera on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to spot Curiosity as it was descending on the surface of the red planet. You can clearly see the capsule and the deployed supersonic parachute.
The MRO was listening to transmissions from Curiosity, and the photo shows the parachute working perfectly:
Details in the parachute such as the band gap at the edges and the central hole are clearly visible. The cords connecting the parachute to the backshell cannot be seen, although they were seen in the image of Phoenix descending, perhaps due to the difference in lighting angles.
The bright spot on the backshell containing MSL might be a specular reflection off of a shiny area. MSL was released from the backshell sometime after this image was acquired.
Amazing. [MRO HiRISE]