After 30 Earth-days on the surface of the red planet, the Mars rover Curiosity has stretched its neck, zapped its first rock and taken its first strolls. More firsts are still to come in the next couple weeks — like scooping, drilling and baking rocks — but the rover is pretty much ready to go, spending the next two years trying to determine if Mars could ever play host to life.
Since we don't have the usual landmarks on Mars that we enjoy on Earth, it can be tough to get a sense of scale for the great shots we've seen from Mars rover Curiosity. In this photo of Mount Sharp--Curiosity's scientific destination--the mound in the center of the image is about 1,000 feet across and 300 feet high. Curiosity, relative to that, looks like a speck of dirt, as you can see after the jump.
Since the moment the Mars rover Curiosity landed in Gale Crater two weeks ago, NASA engineers have been living on Mars time, rolling their clocks forward 40 minutes every day to keep time with the rover. One engineer brought his entire family along for the ride.
Flight director David Oh, his wife, Bryn, and their three kids — 13-year-old Braden, 10-year-old Ashlyn and 8-year-old Devyn — are waking and sleeping in accordance with the Martian clock.
A Mars day, called a sol, is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than an Earth day — not a huge difference, but one that adds up quickly. It drives most engineers crazy. The Oh family is making somewhat of a staycation out of it, at least before the kids start school. AP spent some time at their Pasadena-area home — click through to the Huffington Post to hear about their adventure.
The Martian rock recently named N165 found itself thrust into the limelight this week as it received a new neighbor from Earth--the Mars rover Curiosity. Some genius made a Twitter account from the perspective of N165 as it meets Curiosity, attempts to make friends--and is ruthlessly attacked.
After a couple days of black-and-white imagery and blurry color thumbnails, the Mars rover Curiosity has downlinked its first full-color, 360-degree view of its new home in Gale Crater. Click past the jump to enlarge the whole thing--it's incredible.
More than just a scientific mission, Mars rover Curiosity's final, frightening descent stirred up plenty of emotions, from both the engineers who piloted it and from spectators around the world. We all held our breath as the rover went through the "seven minutes of terror" that was the landing--and then celebrated when news came of a successful finale. It was beautiful, and we've collected some of the best reactions to its descent, as well as some of the early pictures Curiosity sent back to Earth.
Getting Mars rover Curiosity onto the surface of the planet had to be coordinated between many mechanical parts: a heat shield to protect it, a supersonic parachute to soften the landing, and a sky crane to set it down on Mars.