Wed, Aug 08, 2012
Hi-Res Camera In Orbit Grabs Spectacular Image Of Capsule Under Canopy
An image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover still connected to its 51-foot-wide (almost 16 meter) parachute as it descended towards its landing site at Gale Crater. "If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain."
The image was taken while MRO was 211 miles away from the parachuting rover. Curiosity and its rocket-propelled backpack, contained within the conical-shaped back shell, had yet to be deployed. At the time, Curiosity was about two miles (three kilometers) above the Martian surface. "Guess you could consider us the closest thing to paparazzi on Mars," said Milkovich. "We definitely caught NASA's newest celebrity in the act."
One part of the rover team at the JPL continues to analyze the data from last night's landing while another continues to prepare the one-ton mobile laboratory for its future explorations of Gale Crater. One key assignment given to Curiosity for its first full day on Mars is to raise its high-gain antenna. Using this antenna will increase the data rate at which the rover can communicate directly with Earth. The mission will use relays to orbiters as the primary method for sending data home, because that method is much more energy-efficient for the rover.
Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance. Later in the mission, the rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.
To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance to layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.
(Images provided by NASA. Top: Capsule with Curiosity under canopy. Bottom: Image of Mt. Sharp taken by Curiosity)
AirVenture Is Coming To Life At Wittman Regional Airport There was a high overcast over Wittman Regional Airport Saturday afternoon, and a breeze from west was threatening to bring>[...]
Apps Will Transition To Outside Company AOPA is exiting the electronic flight bag (EFB) market, and the association’s existing products, the FlyQ EFB iPad application and rel>[...]
"The AEA is thrilled to debut this year's Pilot's Guide to Avionics at AirVenture, and our staff looks forward to giving complimentary copies to all the pilots and aircraft owners >[...]
New Helicopter To Increase Support, Safety And Effectiveness Of Law Enforcement Missions MD Helicopters held a ceremonial delivery of a new MD 500E helicopter for the Polk County, >[...]
Free Distribution Begins At AirVenture Published annually by the Aircraft Electronics Association, the 2014-15 edition of the Pilot's Guide to Avionics will be unveiled with free d>[...]