Wednesday, August 08, 2012

MSL/Curiosity: First Self Portrait

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) / Curiosity rover mission team has received their first major batch of images from Curiosity's pair of Navigation cameras (Navcams), located on the now-upright 3.6 foot-tall (1.1-meter) camera mast.

The above overlapping images, of various resolutions (some are thumbnails), compose Curiosity's first 360-degree self portrait. The images are shown here in a polar projection, with the rover in the center and the horizon around the edges. And here is something very interesting to consider: The rotating mast cannot be seen directly in these images because the Navcams taking the images are located on the mast. But even so, the mast can be seen in Curiosity's shadow to the right.

Also in the latest batch of Navcam images are two showing that the thrust from the descent-stage rockets actually dug a one-and-a-half-foot-long (0.5-meter) trench in the surface nearby. The team members think they can see exposed Martian bedrock at the bottom of the trench, just waiting to be studied. The members see this as an amazing and unexpected gift that will provide valuable data they can use going forward.

The Mars Science Laboratory / Curiosity rover mission is managed for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C., by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (Caltech). More information about Curiosity is online at www.nasa.gov/msl and mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . You can follow the mission on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

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