You don’t get to see new Mars photos everyday, but now that the Mars Curiosity Rover has successfully landed on the red planet, that could become a more frequent occurrence.
The Curiosity made its historic landing last night at 10:32 PST and just a few minutes later it had already sent back its first photo from the Gale Crater on Mars.
The Huffington Post reports that the first new Mars photo was a “fisheye” photo from the Curiosities’ Hazard Avoidance Cameras, or Hazcams.
John Grotzinger, project manager of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, said:
“Curiosity’s landing site is beginning to come into focus… 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? It is the first of what will be many scientific questions to come from our new home on Mars.”
The Curiosity has sent a few new Mars photos back to earth already and will continue to do so for the next several years.
Photo of Mars Curiosity’s Landing
Here’s a blown up view.
Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif, said: “When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain.”
Rear-View From Mars Rover
From NASA: “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. As planned, the rover’s early engineering images are low resolution.”
First photo taken by Curiosity.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said: “Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future… This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030’s, and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”
And if you haven’t watched it yet, here’s a video of NASA celebrating their enormous achievement.