Unless you have been living under a rock, you are well aware that NASA has made a historical landing on Mars with the Curiosity rover.
Since landing on August 5th, NASA has been executing system checks, and on August 22nd the unmanned mobile science lab’s began it’s first drive.
Below are 10 of the most interesting images that Curiosity has snapped so far over the past two weeks.
1. Martian Weather Patterns
This first image was not taken by the rover itself, but it is still interesting none-the-less.
The following image was taken by the Mars Color Imager instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and shows Martian weather patterns as of august 5th.
The image shows weather activity around the Gale Crater. Included in this activity was a dust storm that the NASA scientists watched very closely.
2. The Gale Crater
NASA posted a color coded topographical image of the Gale Crater, the rover’s landing site, including the mountain that resides in the crater, Mount Sharp.
3. The Mars Descent
Rarely do we get the opportunity to witness a machine created by humans land on another planet. However, that is exactly what is going on in this image.
NASA was able to capture Curiosity’s decent with MARDI (Mars Descent Imager). The image is taken only two minutes before the rover landed on the Martian surface. (1)
4. The Mars Blob
This is image is actually two photos taken by the rover’s rear Hazard Avoidance Cameras. Scientists believe that they depict the impact plume of Curiosity’s sky crane as it crashed into Mars.
NASA scientists intentionally crashed the sky crane away from the rover to avoid a collision between the two.(1)
5. The Mars Rocks
As the rover made its descent, it utilized rocket engines to slow the rover down. However, not only did these rocket engines slow Curiosity’s descent, but they also blew the loose dust away to reveal underneath the immediate surface.
The image shows various sized rocks and pebbles that give clues to rock formation mechanisms present on Mars.(1)
6. A Detailed Close-Up of Rover
Space.com has some great images that they have obtained from NASA, as well. This image shows the rover in great detail prior to its test drive on August 22nd.
The full image is constructed from 20 smaller images and if the first view of the entire rover on the Martian planet.(2)
7. A View of Mount Sharp
Another post by Space.com depicts the likely destination of the rover; Mount Sharp. The mountain, which is found within the Gale Crater, is officially known as Aeolis Mons.
The mountain which is smaller than Mount McKinley is actually a series of sedimentary layers that have been laird over billions of years.(2)
8. The Laser Spot
Out of all of the fascinating equipment found on Curiosity, none is more talked about than the rover’s onboard laser. The laser was tested on August 19, 2012 when it hit a rock designated as “Coronation.”
The laser is part of the ChemCam instrument, which uses the laser to heat the rocks to create plasma. The plasma is then analyzed by the ChemCam to determine the chemical makeup of the target.(3)
9. The Laser Spectrum
On August 19th, the first laser spectrum was sent to NASA from Curiosity. According to NASA the spectrum shows, “an inset on the left shows detail for the minor elements titanium and manganese in the 398-to-404-nanometer range.
An inset at the right shows the hydrogen and carbon peaks.” (3)
10. Curiosity Test Drive
On August 22nd, Curiosity completed it’s first test drive successfully. The images show the tracks of the rover after moving forward 15 feet, circling 120 degrees, and reversing eight feet.(3)
This list is only a small sample of the images being beamed back from Mars.
It is almost certain that many more fascinating images will be obtained by the Curiosity rover as it traverses the Martian landscape.