NASA's robotic space craft, Curiosity, has made a successful landing on Mars.

The six-wheeled vehicle was lowered to the Martian surface on three nylon tethers suspended from a hovering "sky crane" kept airborne with retro rockets shortly after 6.30am.

The €2bn science laboratory is fully automated and is being monitored at mission control in Pasadena, California.

After a nine-month journey from Earth, the rover is due to investigate the possibility that Mars may once have hosted life.

NASA said it received a signal from Curiosity this morning after a plunge through the Martian atmosphere described as "seven minutes of terror".

There were scenes of wild jubilation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California when the message came through to mission control: "Touchdown confirmed."

Curiosity can now start its 98-week mission exploring a Martian crater that billions of years ago may have been filled with water.

The nuclear powered rover is bristling with sophisticated technology designed to discover if Mars may have supported life.

Roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004.