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NASA shows first color photo of Mars from Curiosity

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mars? Curiosity? photo? Gale Crater?

The U.S. space agency NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released the first color image from its Curiosity rover showing the north wall and rim of Gale Crater, where Curiosity landed early Aug. 6.

The image was taken by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager, or Mahli. The image is hazy because, according to NASA the camera's removable dust cover is coated with dust stirred up during the last phase of Curiosity's rocket-powered descent while suspended by a sky crane.

The dust cover will be removed in the coming weeks and the camera used to inspect Curiosity's robotic arm. The camera is located at the end of the robotic arm, which remains in its stowed position.

First color image from Gale Crater

Figure 1: The first color image from Mars' Gale Crater (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems).

The Mahli camera will eventually be used to capture close-up, high-resolution pictures of rocks and soil at the Gale Crater landing site.

JPL also released a "linearized" version of an early image taken by Curiosity's front, left hazard avoidance camera showing Mount Sharp, the 5.47km tall peak at the center of Gale Crater. The linearized image removes distortion in the inspection camera's fish-eye lens.

Mars' Mount Sharp

Figure 2: Curiosity rover's view of Mount Sharp (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech).

Curiosity will eventually drive to Mount Sharp to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think contain clues to past environmental changes on Mars.

Late Tuesday (Aug. 7), NASA also released a satellite image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the impact locations of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft systems. These include the sky crane that flew up and away from Curiosity immediately after lowering it to the surface, the spacecraft heat shield and the hypersonic parachute that slowed the spacecraft's descent to the surface.

Impact points of Mars Science Laboratory systems.

Figure 3: This image, sent by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the impact points of Mars Science Laboratory systems near Curiosity's landing site. (Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona).

- George Leopold
??EE Times





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