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Mars Curiosity in its element: Big NASA photo gives the long view

August 15, 2012|By Amy Hubbard

The tiny spot that the Mars rover Curiosity now occupies on the Red Planet has been captured from on high. A new image (see the incredible, lengthy view below), just released by the space agency, gives a feel for the terrain around the rover.

NASA enhanced the color to make the differences in the terrain pop. Curiosity is seen as a small circular object, with blue shading that shows a blast pattern from the landing.

In reality, NASA says, what appears as blue here is more gray. But the brownish landing region is not, in fact, as colorful as areas to the south of Curiosity -- regions that the rover is set to explore.

The image was captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter six days after Curiosity made its highly anticipated landing.  There have been more than a few exciting images coming from Curiosity.

Engineers confirmed Friday that the rover took a picture of the "descent stage" of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft as it crashed to the ground -- a real long-shot photo. The descent stage of the craft brought the rover to the surface of the Red Planet, lowering it on tethers. The chances of Curiosity capturing that photo at just the right moment were "insane," one engineer said.

NASA said Tuesday it would have another image  in a few days that would take a more direct, downward view of the rover -- "completing a stereo pair along with this image."


Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


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