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Spirit/Opportunity used airbags to land while Curiosity had a "carrier" with thrusters and chords - which to me sounds heavier and much more complex, therefore also riskier.

It seems that it would have the advantage of lower impacts and would be flipped the right side.

So why did they decide to go with this system instead of one based on airbags?

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Because Curiosity massed almost ten times more. Airbags wouldn't have sufficed to get it upright, once the dust had settled.

Curiosity weighs as much as a passenger car. Airbags (admittedly commercial, not space-rated) are only strong enough to contain its occupants, in much gentler collisions, in a much denser atmosphere.

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