Spectacular first color images from Curiosity Mars - Aug 7, 2012

Curiosity Spotted on Parachute by Orbiter.

NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT).

This view is one product from an observation made by HiRISE targeted to the expected location of Curiosity about one minute prior to landing. It was captured in HiRISE CCD RED1.

Curiosity's first color image of Mars has just been beamed back to Earth--and it's a little dusty. This murky view of the landscape to the north of the rover was captured by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the afternoon of the first day after landing:

The image shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. The view is murky because MAHLI's removable dust cover is apparently coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover's terminal descent. Another camera, the Descent Imager, photographed the roughly circular swirls of dust kicked up from the Martian surface by the rocket motor exhaust.

The MAHLI camera is located on the turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm.

The camera's main purpose is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. MAHLI is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity. This means it can take not only close-up pictures of rocks but also big-picture images of the landscape as shown above.

In a week or so, MAHLI's dust cover will come off and the view will improve.

More first images at: NASA Image Gallery 

Get a behind the scenes look a the tension, anticipation and exhilaration experienced by scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. during the Curiosity rover's harrowing descent through the Martian atmosphere, known as "Seven Minutes of Terror."

Source: nasatelevision nasagov.

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