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New Images From Curiosity

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New Images From Curiosity

Martian Ground Seen by Arm Camera With and Without Dust Cover (Thumbnails)

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As the last step in a series of inspections of the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, this camera's reclosable dust cover was opened for the first time during the 33rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 8, 2012), enabling MAHLI to take the center image of this set. The other two images presented here for comparison were taken before the cover was opened (left) and after the cover was closed again (right).

All three images here are thumbnails, approximately one-eighth the resolution of the full-size MAHLI images. The full-size images corresponding to the two cover-closed thumbnails were not yet received on Sept. 8. All three images were taken from the same position: about 5 feet (1.5 meters) above the ground, facing down. The patch of ground shown in each image is about 34 inches (86 centimeters) across.

Comparison of these cover-closed and cover-open images shows that haziness in MAHLI images taken on previous sols was due to a thin film of dust that settled on the dust cover during Curiosity's landing.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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First Image From Curiosity's Arm Camera With Dust Cover Open

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The reclosable dust cover on Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was opened for the first time during the 33rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 8, 2012), enabling MAHLI to take this image.

The level of detail apparent in the image shows that haziness in earlier MAHLI images since landing was due to dust that had settled on the dust cover during the landing.

The patch of ground shown is about 34 inches (86 centimeters) across. The size of the largest pebble, near the bottom of the image, is about 3 inches (8 centimeters). Notice that the ground immediately around that pebble has less dust visible (more gravel exposed) than in other parts of the image. The presence of the pebble may have affected the wind in a way that preferentially removes dust from the surface around it.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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Lincoln Penny on Mars in Camera's Calibration Target

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The penny in this image is part of a camera calibration target on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover took this and other images of the MAHLI calibration target during the 34th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 9, 2012).

The image was acquired with MAHLI at a distance of 5 centimeters (2 inches). MAHLI can acquire images of even higher resolution and can be positioned as close as 2.5 centimeters (about 1 inch); however, as this is the first checkout of the robotic arm, it was decided not to attempt to place the MAHLI at its closest focus distance during this test. The image shows that the calibration target has a coating of Martian dust on it. This is unsurprising as the target was facing directly toward the plume of dust stirred up by the sky crane's descent engines during the final phase of the 6 August 2012 landing.

The penny is a nod to geologists' tradition of placing a coin or other object of known scale as a size reference in close-up photographs of rocks, and it gives the public a familiar object for perceiving size easily when it will be viewed by MAHLI on Mars.

The specific coin, provided by MAHLI's principal investigator, Ken Edgett, is a 1909 "VDB" penny. That was the first year Lincoln pennies were minted and the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. The VDB refers to the initials of the coin's designer, Victor D. Brenner, which are on the reverse side. Brenner based the coin's low-relief portrait of Lincoln on a photograph taken Feb. 9, 1864, by Anthony Berger in the Washington, D.C. studio of Mathew Brady.

The calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument also includes a "Joe the Martian" character, color references, a metric bar graphic, and a stair-step pattern for depth calibration. The MAHLI adjustable-focus, color camera at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm can be used for taking extreme close-ups of rocks and soil on Mars, as well as images from greater distances.

The Joe the Martian character appeared regularly in a children's science periodical, "Red Planet Connection," when Edgett directed the Mars outreach program at Arizona State University, Tempe, in the 1990s. Joe was created earlier, as part of Edgett's schoolwork when he was 9 years old and NASA's Mars Viking missions, launched in 1975, were inspiring him to dream of becoming a Mars researcher.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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Calibration Target for Curiosity's Arm Camera

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This view of the calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines two images taken by that camera during the 34th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 9, 2012). Part of Curiosity's left-front and center wheels and a patch of Martian ground are also visible.

The camera is in the turret of tools at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. Its calibration target is on the rover body near the base of the arm. The Sol 34 imaging by MAHLI was part of a week-long set of activities for characterizing the movement of the arm in Mars conditions. MAHLI has adjustable focus. The camera took two images with the same pointing: one with the calibration target in focus and one with the wheel and Martian ground in focus. The view here combines in-focus portions from these shots.

The calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument includes color references, a metric bar graphic, a 1909 VDB Lincoln penny, and a stair-step pattern for depth calibration. The penny is a nod to geologists' tradition of placing a coin or other object of known scale as a size reference in close-up photographs of rocks, and it gives the public a familiar object for perceiving size easily when it will be viewed by MAHLI on Mars.

The new MAHLI images show that the calibration target has a coating of Martian dust on it. This is unsurprising -- the target was facing directly toward the plume of dust stirred up by the sky crane's descent engines during the final phase of the 6 August 2012 landing.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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Belly Check for Curiosity

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This view of the lower front and underbelly areas of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 34th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 9, 2012). Also visible are the hazard avoidance cameras on the front of the rover.

MAHLI is located in the turret of tools at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. The Sol 34 imaging by MAHLI was part of a week-long set of activities for characterizing the movement of the arm in Mars conditions.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the rover itself from different angles.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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Wheels and a Destination

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This view of the three left wheels of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines two images that were taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 34th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 9, 2012). In the distance is the lower slope of Mount Sharp.

The camera is located in the turret of tools at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. The Sol 34 imaging by MAHLI was part of a week-long set of activities for characterizing the movement of the arm in Mars conditions.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the rover itself from different angles.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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Imo, Mars is actually quite beautiful. So amazing that that is the surface of Mars! and we are there.

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I'm thinking back in time about all the people who held in their hands that 1909 penny, and now it's on Mars.

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Thanks for the updates Waspie , I am excited to see what we might find on Mars .

TiP.

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Looks like any desert on Earth,... or Tatooine, minus one star of course.

Awesome pictures, keem em comming Waspie.

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Great Pic's. Waiting to see more. :tu:

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Martian Sand Grains on Penny

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This close-up image shows Martian sand grains that settled on the penny that serves as a calibration target on NASA's Curiosity rover. This image, taken cropped from a larger scene by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, is 200 percent larger than the original, PIA16131. The larger grain under Abraham Lincoln's ear is about 0.008 inches (0.2 millimeters) across; the one under the first 9 in "1909" is about 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters) across. Geologists classify grains of this size as fine sand and very fine sand.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Hello, MAHLI

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This image shows the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Curiosity rover, with the Martian landscape in the background. The image was taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera on the 32nd Martian day, or sol, of operations on the surface (Sept. 7, 2012, PDT or Sept. 8, 2012, UTC). MAHLI, with its LED (light-emitting diode) lights on, can be seen in the middle of the picture. Scientists and engineers imaged MAHLI to inspect its dust cover and check that its LED lights are functional.

Scientists enhanced the color in this version to show the Martian scene as it would appear under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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A Piece of New Mexico on Mars

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A sample of basaltic rock from a lava flow in New Mexico serves as a calibration target carried on the front of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity for the rover's Canadian-made Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument. This image of the APXS calibration target was taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 34th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Sept. 9, 2012). The image has been rotated to compensate for the tilted orientation of the camera when it was taken.

The prepared slab of well-characterized dark rock collected near Socorro, N.M., is held in a nickel mounting. The circular opening revealing the rock is about 1.4 inches (3.5 centimeters) in diameter.

The Sol 34 imaging was part of characterization testing of the rover's arm and tools on the arm. A subsequent step commanded the arm-mounted APXS instrument to take a reading of the composition of the calibration target. Curiosity will use the target from time to time during the mission, checking the continuing performance and calibration of the APXS instrument.

APXS can identify chemical elements in rocks and soils. The spectrometer uses the radioactive element curium as a source to bombard the target with energetic alpha particles (helium nuclei) and X-rays. This causes each element in the target to emit its own characteristic X-rays, which are then registered by an X-ray detector chip inside the instrument's sensor head.

The rock in the calibration target is the hardest basalt of more than 200 types tested by the APXS team. Hardness was a desired attribute for preventing the target from breaking during the stresses of launch and landing. In addition, this basalt is low in sulfur, nickel and chlorine. Those elements are common in Martian dust. Thus, scientists using APXS will more easily detect and account for any Martian dust on the calibration target.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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Portrait of APXS on Mars

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This image shows the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on NASA's Curiosity rover, with the Martian landscape in the background. The image was taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera on the 32nd Martian day, or sol, of operations on the surface (Sept. 7, 2012, PDT or Sept. 8, 2012, UTC). APXS can be seen in the middle of the picture.

This image let researchers know that the APXS instrument had not become caked with dust during Curiosity's dusty landing.

Scientists enhanced the color in this version to show the Martian scene as it would appear under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Opening and Closing SAM

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This set of images from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the inlet covers for the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument opening and closing, as the rover continues to check out its instruments in the first phase after landing. These images were taken by the Navigation camera on the 36th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's operations on Mars (Sept. 11, 2012). The rover's mast is casting a shadow over the deck.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Phobos in Transit

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Mars has two small, asteroid-sized moons named Phobos and Deimos. From the point of view of the rover, located near the equator of Mars, these moons occasionally pass in front of, or "transit," the disk of the sun. These transit events are the Martian equivalent of partial solar eclipses on Earth because the outline of the moons does not completely cover the sun (in contrast, Earth's moon does block the entire sun during a total solar eclipse). These eclipses, like those on Earth, occur in predictable "seasons" a few times each Mars year.

As part of a multi-mission campaign, NASA's Curiosity rover is observing these transits, the first of which involved the moon Phobos grazing the sun's disk. The event was observed on Martian day, or sol, 37 (September 13, 2012) using Curiosity's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, equipped with special filters for directly observing the sun. In a series of high-resolution video frames acquired at about three frames per second for about two minutes, the outline of part of Phobos blocked about five percent of the sun.

This animation shows the transit as viewed by the Mastcam 100-millimiter camera (M-100) in nine frames. Another version of the animation is available, consisting of 20 frames taken by the Mastcam 34-millimeter camera (M-34), which has about one-third the resolution of the M-100. In total, 256 frames were taken by the M-100 and 384 frames for the M-34.

› Mastcam-34 animation

The transit was also observed by Curiosity's Rover Environmental Monitoring Stations (REMS) instrument, which saw about a five percent drop in the sun's ultraviolet radiation during the event.

Mission scientists use these events to very accurately determine the orbital parameters of the Martian moons. Phobos, for example, orbits very close to Mars and is slowly spiraling in to Mars because of tidal forces. These forces change the orbital position of Phobos over time, and accurate measurements of those changes can provide information about the internal structure of that moon and how it dissipates energy. Deimos orbits much farther away and is slowly spiraling out.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity will also attempt to observe a different set of Phobos and Deimos transits, seen from the other side of the planet, in Meridiani Planum.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Comparing Phobos Views

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As part of a multi-mission campaign, NASA's Curiosity rover is observing Martian moon transits, the first of which involved the moon Phobos grazing the sun's disk. The event was observed on Martian day, or sol, 37 (September 13, 2012) using Curiosity's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, equipped with special filters for directly observing the sun. This image layout compares views from the Mastcam 34-millimeter lens (left) and the Mastcam 100-millimeter lens, which is designed to take zoomed-in shots with about three times higher resolution. These images were taken about 18 seconds apart.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Dark Bands Run Through Light Layers

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This mosaic from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover shows a close-up view looking toward the "Glenelg" area, where three different terrain types come together. All three types are observed from orbit with the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. By driving there, Curiosity will be able to explore them.

One of these terrain types is light-toned with well-developed layering, which likely records the deposition of sedimentary materials. There are also black bands that run through the area and might constitute additional layers that alternate with the light-toned layer(s). The black bands are not easily seen from orbit and are on the order of about 3.3-feet (1-meter) thick. Both of these layer types are important science targets.

This mosaic is composed of images taken with the Mastcam 100-millimeter camera.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

› View unannotated image

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On the Road to Glenelg

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This mosaic from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover shows the view looking toward the "Glenelg" area, where three different terrain types come together. All three types are observed from orbit with the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. By driving there, Curiosity will be able to explore them.

One of the three terrain types is light-toned with well-developed layering, which likely records deposits of sedimentary materials. There are also black bands that run through the area and might constitute additional layers that alternate with the light-toned layers. The black bands are not easily seen from orbit and are on the order of about 3.3-feet (1-meter) thick. Both of these layer types are important science targets.

This mosaic is composed of seven images. The Mastcam 34-millimeter camera took a series of four images; embedded within that series is a second set of three images taken with the Mastcam 100-millimeter camera.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

› View unannotated image

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'Jake Matijevic' Contact Target for Curiosity

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The drive by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity during the mission's 43rd Martian day, or sol, (Sept. 19, 2012) ended with this rock about 8 feet (2.5 meters) in front of the rover. The rock is about 10 inches (25 centimeters) tall and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide. The rover team has assessed it as a suitable target for the first use of Curiosity's contact instruments on a rock. The image was taken by the left Navigation camera (Navcam) at the end of the drive.

The rock has been named "Jake Matijevic." This commemorates Jacob Matijevic (1947-2012), who was the surface operations systems chief engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory Project and the project's Curiosity rover. He was also a leading engineer for all of the previous NASA Mars rovers: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity.

Curiosity's contact instruments are on a turret at the end of the rover's arm. They are the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer for reading a target's elemental composition and the Mars Hand Lens Imager for close-up imaging.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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As Curiosity sends back more and more images, there is a danger that this tread could become too long. From now on I will be posting new Curiosity images in the Unexplained-Mysteries Space Exploration Gallery (except, of course, where an image warrants a separate topic of its own).

The Space Exploration Gallery can be found HERE.

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