The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of Curiosity descending beneath its parachute. Alfred McEwen writes about the image taken by the HiRISE camera:
NASA’s Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from Curiosity.
Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box; and a separate image is a smaller cutout of MSL stretched to avoid saturation. The rover is landing on the etched plains just north of the sand dunes that fringe “Mt. Sharp.”
The parachute appears fully inflated and performing perfectly. Details in the parachute such as the band gap at the edges and the central hole are clearly visible. The cords connecting the parachute to the backshell cannot be seen, although they were seen in the image of Phoenix descending, perhaps due to the difference in lighting angles.
(The MSL suspension lines are made of material called Technora which has a tan color, while the Phoenix suspension lines were Kevlar which is yellow and this may help explain why they aren’t visible in the image.)
The bright spot on the backshell containing MSL might be a specular reflection off of a shiny area. MSL was released from the backshell sometime after this image was acquired.
This view is one product from an observation made by HiRISE targeted to the expected location of MSL about 1 minute prior to landing. It was captured in HiRISE CCD RED1, near the eastern edge of the swath width (there is a RED0 at the very edge). This means that MSL was a bit further east or downrange than predicted.