August 15, 2012
NASA Releases New Curiosity Images
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Curiosity just keeps the images coming, as NASA unleashed a few more photos this week taken by and of the latest Martian rover.
The Mars Science Laboratory entered the Martian atmosphere on August 5, and mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been spending their week checking out Curiosity's ten instruments and updating software for its mission.
While we wait for the rover to begin its trek, NASA has been offering up images taken of and by Curiosity over the last week, while we also keep up with the news as to what's going on with "Mohawk Man," the latest Internet NASA celebrity.
In the most recent update, NASA has unveiled a gorgeous photo taken of Curiosity's neighborhood on Mars. In the image, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows off some Martian terrain, as well as Curiosity and its landing site.
The color-enhanced view shows the terrain around the rover's landing site within Gale Crater on Mars.
"This image was acquired at an angle of 30 degrees from straight down, looking west," NASA said. "Another image looking more directly down will be acquired in five days, completing a stereo pair along with this image."
NASA also released a 360-degree full-resolution panorama, showing the area all around the rover within Gale Crater on Mars. In this image, the rim of Gale Crater can be seen to the left, and the base of Mount Sharp is to the center-right.
"Curiosity will drive to the knolls of layered rock at the lower slopes of Mount Sharp to investigate their history and geology in detail," NASA said in an image caption. "That destination is to the south-southwest, beyond the dark sand dunes. In the annotated version of this image, degrees are listed at the very top."
Also released was an image showing the buttes and mesas on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp. The image was taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera.
The new photo provides an overview of the eventual geological targets Curiosity will be exploring over the next two years, starting with the rock-strewn, gravelly surface close by, and extending towards the dark dune field.
In the last week, since Curiosity has landed, NASA's Mohawk Man hasn't been the only celebrity taking away a little attention from MSL. President Barack Obama gave the NASA Curiosity team a phone call while riding on Air Force One on Monday.
President Obama called to congratulate them on the "incredibly impressive" mission accomplishment.
"We could not be more excited," the President said in the call, telling the team that "it's really mind boggling what you've been able to accomplish."
He went on to talk about how the Curiosity mission is inspiring children across the country.
"You know, they're telling their Moms and Dads they want to be part of a Mars mission, maybe even the first person to walk on Mars," said President Obama.
The president also joked about finding Martians, and talked about the popularity of "Mohawk Guy."
"You guys are a little cooler than you used to be," he said.
He said that he wanted a mohawk himself, but his team had talked him out of getting one. However, with the growing popularity of NASA's newest celebrity, he said he is going to go back and readdress the mohawk situation with his team.