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Since it was too heavy to land using traditional air bags, it used a heat shield, parachute, rockets and cables. An orbiting spacecraft spotted the discarded spacecraft hardware, including the ballast weights that were shed soon after entry into the atmosphere.

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Follow Alicia Chang’s Mars coverage at http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia.

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Online:

Mars mission: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl