Saturday, August 11, 2012

Curiosity Begins Capturing Martian Kodak Moments

A Fantastic Achievement'

"The successful landing of the Mars rover Curiosity represents a fantastic achievement," Mario Livio, senior astrophysicist with the Space Telescope Science Institute, told TechNewsWorld.

"The landing followed an unprecedented set of complex maneuvers, and it demonstrated once more how human ingenuity and hard work can overcome incredible difficulties and lead to fabulous results," Livio pointed out.

In fact, "it is not an accident that the rover was named 'Curiosity,'" he added. "It may give us an answer to a question that we have been curious about for ages: Did Mars ever host life?

"I sat up all night to follow the approach and landing, and to tweet about it," Livio said. "It was worth every minute."

'Where Does This Gravel Come From?'

Just minutes after its landing, Curiosity returned its first view of Mars: a wide-angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover.

About two hours later, a higher-resolution image arrived.

Curiosity rover Mars photo
This is one of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on the morning of Aug. 6, 2012. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

"Curiosity's landing site is beginning to come into focus," said John Grotzinger, project manager of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

"In the image, we are looking to the northwest. What you see on the horizon is the rim of Gale Crater. In the foreground, you can see a gravel field. The question is, where does this gravel come from?" Grotzinger asked. "It is the first of what will be many scientific questions to come from our new home on Mars."

Later in the week, color images are expected when the rover's mast -- equipped with high-resolution cameras -- is deployed.


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