Since Mars Curiosity Rover's landing in the Red Planet's Gale Crater last month, we've seen pictures from just about every imaging instrument aboard the robotic geology lab. But today, we're seeing a different kind of image: a self-portrait of Curiosity snapped by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, the camera fixed to the end of the rover's seven-foot robotic arm. Everything you snapped on Instagram over the weekend suddenly pales in comparison, no?
If the image looks hazy, that's no post-photo manipulation. MAHLI keeps its lens free from contamination with a transparent lens cover, which was still fixed over the lens--and covered in the planet's signature red dust-- when the photo above was snapped.
The biggest "eye" you see there on Curiosity's face is the lens for the ChemCam, which blasts nearby rocks with a laser beam and reads the chemical contents from the resulting optical signature from this flash of light. The two square sensors below it are the color Mastcam imaging system "eyes," and the four smallest sensors--two on each side of the Mastcam imagers--are the black and white Navcam imagers, used to help the rover "see" it's way across the Martian frontier.
Also coming down from Mars yesterday courtesy of MAHLI is the image below, taken to inspect the rover's wheels (that's the sloping beginnings of Mount Sharp in the background).
Curiosity is currently rolling toward a geologically interesting spot known as Glenelg, but will soon make its way toward Mount Sharp, which astrogeologists think will contain a good picture of Mars geological history stratified in its layers. Along the way, it will be doing what good little space robots do: lazrin ur rocks (lolz courtesy of Emily Lakdawalla over at the Planetary society; hat tip to MSNBC's Alan Boyle).
Lens cover to protect the lens from dust, so the lens does not get dusty, I suppose we need a lens cover upper, cover too! lol
I suppose since we do not have an astronaut on location to keep the lens clean, there will always be limits on clarity with a dusty environment. But with that all said, I like a lot more pictures of MARS, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robot, you missed the point here, this image was taken before the cover was removed. There is no need to keep the external cover clear. From NASA.GOV
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)
So that image is taken THROUGH the cover, which can open and close as needed. Go check out the raw images on NASA's site, they are amazing.
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
I typically do not see the dust on my own glasses as I look about or far away; my own nose for that matter and its a honker, lol.
I wish less to see picture of wheels or knots of string and yes the raw images at NASA are great! KEEP THOSE PICTURES OF MARS COMING!!!! WoWzers! ;)
It's not popular or trendy to say anything negative about the MSL Curiosity mission. It's a media darling and a hit on the social web scene. But in all honesty, if MER Spirit or Opportunity had spent so much time hamming it up with Mohawk-haircut operators and self portraits, half the science they accomplished would have never happened. Even now after being on Mars for over eight (8) years, the smaller rover, Opportunity, on most days still returns more imagery and data than Curiosity.
They're in the process of doing diagnostics. They need to test the equipment to ensure it's all working fine before they start doing the 'hard science'. If you're flexing your arm near your head, and at the same time need to take a picture to test the camera, why not take a picture of yourself? Not to mention the fact that they need to take pictures of the rover to make sure nothing was damaged in the landing.
Just give them time before they get going. They sent a freakin' two-and-a-half billion dollar mini cooper across the universe! They deserve to take it slow at the start.
Spirit and Opportunity had planned missions of 90 days. Curiosity's slated mission is 668 days. It's also a significantly more complicated mission. It also has to be a public relations success for NASA, because the mission was so costly. All of these factors mean that the mission is taking a bit longer to get going... as it should...
Though large monies at the government and not being successful or through large monies at NASA and being successful; mmmm can we get a bunch of the Engineers of NASA to run for office? Perhaps something productive might be accomplished!;)
tertertert & suggestivesimon -
Thanks for the replies.
Have been following the MER rovers since before they were launched. Understand that there is a matter of fine-tuning. I remember when Project Mercury was learning how to fly. I lived close enough to see launches streak across the Florida skies.
I feel the this MSL mission has been more show and less science since day one. I feel that the record - between the smaller rovers and this big one - speaks for itself. They were active almost from the very beginning, snooping, sniffing and Opportunity is still logging more road tome and science than this glorified RV.
That said... and before I am mistaken for someone with nothing but a bitter gripe against NASA, this mission has filled a lot of gaps with a lot of fluff. We had the aforementioned Mohawk guy (applause), then the dosey-doh when Curiosity finally moved its wheels back and forth... and the song was round-tripped, now a self portrait. None of this puts forth a single scientific effort and that is what bugs me.
In sum, this mission is one that promises quite a lot and I have personally been waiting for it for many, many years... including those when the launch was originally put off until 2011. But I won't stay silent when I don't see something that at least equals whet those first two rovers accomplished in the first months of their long drives.
Don't want an argument... just waiting for some meat on this burger.
I think the fact that Curiosity has a much different mission than its predecessors is sufficient explanation for its slow start. Opportunity took a few days to start rolling, and Curiosity took a few weeks. So what? We're still in the first inning.
Mohawk-guy had very little to do with NASA, I think. The internet picked up on him and made him viral. All NASA did was let the guy take time off to do interviews when TV stations started calling. They were opportunists.
Independantly of Curiosity's progress, I'm glad NASA is doing PR. By the very nature of its missions, NASA has always been in a great position to inspire people. The audio broadcast from Mars was a dud for most of us, but I'm sure it got a few people to start asking questions - and I think that's what NASA should be doing. I applaud them for making an effort to make this mission interesting to kids, teens and the science-illiterate. NASA's efforts to get people interested in science and technology will help humanity grow a lot more than any discovery they're liable to make on Mars.
"They record me rollin'... they hatein'... all because I can't find martians..."
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.