From Marina Koren, The Atlantic:
The Mars probe came barreling in. It streaked through the planet’s atmosphere at about 12,000 miles per hour. With the surface in sight, its parachute unfurled. The probe fired its rockets to slow itself down, and inflated its airbags to cushion the landing. Touching down gently, it bounced across the clay-colored terrain.…
…As engineers prepared to transmit their final commands, through massive radio antennae positioned around the world, the mood at JPL was somber, according to Tanya Harrison, a scientist on the mission.
“The rover surpassed every single expectation we could’ve possibly had,” Harrison says. “But I’m not sure anything can fully prepare you for the wave of emotion of hearing a mission you work on is coming to an end.”