Satellite Technology Feature Article
Wish You Were Here: Curiosity Sends NASA High Resolution Photos of its New Home
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
NASA's Curiosity Rover may still be in the process of setting up, system checking and testing, but it has taken a few moments to stop and smell the roses. Well...stop and look at the rocks, in any case.
Curiosity, which landed on the surface of Mars early Monday morning EST without a hitch, much to the joy of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), took some time earlier this week to snap a few photos of its new home – Mars' Gale Crater – in both black and white and color with its onboard Navcams, and the results are exciting both NASA and space exploration enthusiasts all over the world. The photos show a vast crater floor littered with rocks, with the mountainous rim of Gale Crater off in the distance.
“The topography of the rim is very mountainous due to erosion” said NASA, when it released the photos. “The ground seen in the middle shows low-relief scarps and plains. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover’s descent stage thrusters.”
The cameras also picked up on an outcropping of bedrock, a view that is sure to excite geologists who can examine the bedrock to better understand Mars' geological history, including how and where water once ran on the surface of Mars and whether the Red Planet could have once supported life in its distant past.
After the initial photos – more will be sure to follow – Curiosity will beam back information from its radiation sensors and will then deploy and test its Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), Chemistry & Mineralogy Analyzer (CheMin), Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), and Dynamic Albedo Neutrons (DAN) instruments to make sure they all survived the long journey intact.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman