Tuesday, August 14, 2012

See Curiosity from HiRISE

Image credit: NASNASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
click image to enlarge
It looks like we have a new great view of the MSL Curiosity rover from our Eye in the Sky. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image. HiRISE was at a 30-degreen angle from looking straight down. A straight over the head shot will be captured in about 5 days from now.

Curiosity is in the middle of the dark patch on the lower left of the image. It is the silver object in the middle. The darkened area is the blast area from the Sky Crane decent engines blackening the surrounding landscape. She faces SE, down and to the right towards Mt. Sharp.

The majority of the driving paths and science will occur to the right of this image past the present landscape as they work their way to the base of Mt. Sharp, past the dune fields.

On Sol 13 JPL scientists will be testing the steering actuators in preparation for its first drive on Sol 15 for a short drive in an area visible by the Hazcams. Taking a route SW from the current landing sight, they will traverse the dune fields, then heading straight towards Mt. Sharp climbing a few meters of elevation onto its slope. Curiosity can drive on a terrain approx. 20% of slope a long a path they are selecting right now.

All the current images were programed prior to landing, as they did not know exactly where Curiosity would be landing. This is why we have not seen the top of Mt. Sharp. JPL has mentioned that with in a few Sols they have programed a image sequence to capture the top of the mountain.  Look forward to seeing a complete color mosaic of our view of Gale Craters central mountain.

This view from Curiosity's Navigation camera shows the hilly wall of Gale Crater. A full-resolution, 360-degree panorama from the Navigation camera is at PIA16026 .
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


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