Mars Rover Images Interesting Rock Feature
October 2, 2012

Curiosity Shoots Back ‘Bathurst Inlet’ Rock Picture

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Curiosity, at 54-days deep into its mission on Mars, recently shot back an image to NASA taken of an interesting rock called "Bathurst Inlet."

The Martian rock is dark gray, and appears so fine-grained that the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imagers (MAHLI) camera cannot depict grains or crystals in it. NASA said this means if there are any grains or crystals at all, they are smaller than about 80 microns in size.

The space agency said some windblown sand-sized grains or dust aggregates have accumulated on the surface of the rock, but this surface is clean compared to the pebbly substrate below the rock.

NASA said it took a set of eight images of an area that covers about 6.5 inches by 5 inches, with a resolution of about 105 microns per pixel.

The full-frame versions of the eight separate images that were combined into this view were not returned to Earth, but only the thumbnail versions so far.

Merging the images onboard reduces the volume of data that needs to be downloaded to Earth, according to NASA.

The image was taken on Curiosity's 54th Martian day, or sol. The MAHLI principal investigator invited Curiosity's science team to "MAHLI it up!" in the selection of SOL 54 targets for inspection with MAHLI and the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer.