We promised you images and here are the latest batch from NASA JPL, sent from Curiosity over the last couple of days. We start first though with a fantastic image captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and it’s HiRISE camera!
In the expanded view you can see the band details on the “supersonic” parachute, and even the hole in the centre, as Curiosity heads towards a famous landing! When fully deployed the craft experienced over 9G of force as it slowed.
The image above was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument (known as MARDI) and shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft.
It was obtained two and a half minutes before touchdown on the surface of Mars and about three seconds after heat shield separation.
The rover’s shadow can be seen in the foreground above, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is the peak of Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) at a height of about 3.4 miles, the base of which the Curiosity team will target as scientists believe it will hold clues to past environmental change.
In the distance, the image above shows the north wall and rim of the Gale Crater. The image is murky because the MAHLI’s removable dust cover is coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover’s terminal descent.
Images taken without the dust cover in place are expected during checkout of the robotic arm in coming weeks (as the cover won’t be opened until around a week after landing).
Considering these images are the tip of what should become a very large iceberg, and Curiosity hasn’t yet properly woken up, there is so much promise and excitement surrounding Curiosity at the moment, and rightly so.
What fantastic times we live in
Source: NASA MSL