THE most high-tech Mars rover built landed on the red planet today.

Nasa said it received a signal from the Curiosity rover after a plunge through the Martian atmosphere described as ''seven minutes of terror''.

The rover is the size of a small car, so engineers had to come up with a new way to set it down. For the first time cables were used to lower the rover inside of a giant crater.

At 2.5 billion dollars (£1.6bn), it is the most ambitious and priciest Mars mission yet.

For the next two years, the rover will drill into rocks and scoop up soil. It will be exploring whether the planet's environment could have supported life in the form of microscopic organisms.