First Color Image from Curiosity and Photo of Curiosity on the Surface

First Color Image from Curiosity and Photo of Curiosity on the Surface

The Martian police would probably charge us with littering, but NASA released a photo today showing the Curiosity rover, its heat shield, parachute, back shell and Sky Crane on the Martian surface.   That image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a NASA spacecraft that has been in orbit around Mars since 2006.   Then NASA released the first color image taken by Curiosity itself from its new home in Gale Crater, Mars.

Image credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Curiosity arrived on the surface thanks to the other components shown in this image.   The heat shield protected it from the 3,800 degree Fahrenheit heat of descent through the Martian atmosphere.  A photo released earlier by NASA, taken by a camera on Curiosity during descent, shows the heat shield after it was jettisoned.   Jettisoning the heat shield allowed deployment of the supersonic parachute that slowed Curiosity to about 200 miles per hour.  It and the backshell to which it was attached then were jettisoned and the Sky Crane took over to make a powered descent the rest of the way down.  When Curiosity’s wheels touched the surface, it fired pyros to disconnect the the cables connecting it to the Sky Crane and the Sky Crane flew off so it would not land on top of the rover. 

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

Meanwhile, Curiosity sent back this color image of its surroundings.   The view is to the north and shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater in the distance.  NASA says the image is murky because the cover of the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) that took the picture is coated with dust from the landing.  Images without the dust cover are expected in due course once the rover’s robotic arm is released from its stowed position and can remove the cap.

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