August 13, 2012
Curiosity Sending Back Stunning Pictures From Mars
|Image Source: NASA|
|The first images from Curiosity's color Mast Camera, or Mastcam, have been received by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The 130 low-resolution thumbnails, which were received Thursday morning, provide scientists and engineers of NASA's newest Mars rover their first color, horizon-to-horizon glimpse of Gale Crater.|
Arguably the landing is one of the greatest achievements for robotic planetary exploration.
“At this point, as scientists we haven’t really scratched the surface, and really, what’s amazing about it is the miracle of engineering.” NASA project scientist John Grotzinger said after Curiosity reported back from the Martian surface.
This successful landing is something NASA desperately sought. After the space shuttle program ended with no immediate replacement and a history of 67 percent of Mars missions ending in failure, the agency wanted to prove that it could complete a complex mission.
|This color image from NASA's Curiosity rover looks south of the rover's landing site on Mars towards Mount Sharp. This is part of a larger, high-resolution color mosaic made from images obtained by Curiosity's Mast Camera.|
Image Source: NASA
Last week Curiosity sent back to NASA on earth its first color panoramic views from the inside of Gale crater, and they are amazing. The large file, high-resolution color mosaic, which you can download, is an enormous 29,184 x 4,144 pixels. The full-res TIFF file comes it at over a third of a gigabyte in size (the full-res jpg is a much more manageable 9 MB).
That level of detail lets you really take in just how Earth-like —and starkly beautiuful— Mars' terrain is. According to NASA's Photojournal: "The images show a landscape that closely resembles portions of the southwestern United States in its morphology, adding to the impression gained from the lower-resolution thumbnail mosaic released early in the week."
Curiousity will now roam Mars for a scheduled two years, trying to help determine if the red planet ever harbored the basic building blocks for microbial life.
Michael Watkins, the mission manager for surface operations, said engineers are now checking out the car-sized rover’s systems including 10 scientific instruments to ensure they survived the landing intact. After the systems verification, the rover is due to scoop up some of the nearby loose soil for analysis.
SOURCE 360 Cities, IO9, NASA
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