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First Pictures from Curiosity’s Martian Adventure

Monday, August 06, 2012

This image taken by NASA's Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA is marveling over the Mars rover’s first photographs — grainy, black-and-white images of Martian gravel, a mountain at sunset and, most exciting of all, the spacecraft's white-knuckle plunge through the red planet's atmosphere.

Curiosity, a roving laboratory the size of a compact car, landed on target late Sunday night after an eight-month, 352-million-mile journey.

The mission team is awaiting full-resolution frames of the descent - a process that would take some time. Once they're sent back, it'll be the first full glimpse of a spacecraft landing on another world.

NASA has released a low-resolution video of the Curiosity during the final few minutes of its descent to the Martian surface. It shows the protective heat shield falling away as the rover plummeted through the Mars' atmosphere, and dust was being kicked up as it was lowered by cables inside a crater.

Cheers and applause echoed through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and engineers hugged, high-fived and thrust their fists in the air after signals from space indicated the vehicle had survived the harrowing descent through Mars' pinkish atmosphere.

JPL Director Charles Elachi likened the team to Olympic athletes: "This team came back with the gold."

"Everybody in the morning should be sticking their chests out and saying, `That's my rover on Mars,'" NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on NASA TV.

NASA/JPL-Caltech
One of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. The cameras are looking directly into the sun, so the top of the image is saturated.

 

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image shows one of the first views from NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (early morning hours Aug. 6 EDT). It was taken through a "fisheye" wide-angle lens on one of the rover's Hazard-Avoidance cameras.

NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Part of the rim of Gale Crater, which is a feature the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, stretches from the top middle to the top right of the image. One of the rover's wheels can be seen at bottom right.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface of Mars. It shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft.

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Comments [1]

Mike Hood MD

Thanks NASA for this great feat that fuels my dreams.

Jan. 17 2013 07:51 PM

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