August 6, 2012
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Snaps Photo Of Curiosity’s Descent
As Curiosity made history last night, MRO was able to take a picture of the Mars Science Laboratory as it rode down with its parachute into Mars.
Sarah Malkovich, NASA’s High Rise Investigation scientist, said the image was taken six minutes after Curiosity entered the Martian atmosphere.
In the image, you can see the lines on the parachute, as well as the hole in the top of the MSL.
NASA spoke more encouragement into the success of the rover, saying everything is still going alright, and Curiosity’s cameras have kicked off the lens caps successfully.
Ultimately, once everything has all checked out, the rover will be able to take colored images and 3D images of Mars.
NASA said it has ended one phase of the mission, but another mission has just begun. Now, Curiosity is in the first phase of its surface mission, which the space agency said seems boring but crucial.
During the first phase of the mission, Curiosity will be checking itself out to make sure it is healthy, as well as deploy its antenna.
The space agency will be taking images of the landing site in the days to come, which will help be able to identified at where MSL’s other components landed.
Curiosity landed about 1.2 miles east of the landing point, and a few thousand feet north. This estimate is based on Curiosity’s own built in navigation system.
In the original images downloaded right after Curiosity landed safely, you can see the mountain of Gale Crater. NASA said the Curiosity rover is pointed south east.
As the rover settles into its new home, the scientific data being collected by it has just begun. The rover still has hoards of landing data that it will be transferring back to NASA for its scientists to analyze. The space agency said this landing information will be able to help NASA have an even better understanding of how to land a rover on another planetary surface, and what to anticipate.
Stay tuned to redOrbit as we bring you the latest updates to the Curiosity mission.
Image Caption: NASA’s Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box; the inset image is a cutout of the rover stretched to avoid saturation. The rover is descending toward the etched plains just north of the sand dunes that fringe “Mt. Sharp.” From the perspective of the orbiter, the parachute and Curiosity are flying at an angle relative to the surface, so the landing site does not appear directly below the rover.
Image Credit: NASA