Skip the navigation

Mars rover Curiosity sends images, video

A video shows the rover's descent onto the red planet, while a photo captures its surroundings (See video below)

By Nick Barber
August 7, 2012 09:59 AM ET

IDG News Service - A short, low resolution video captured the final minutes of Mars rover Curiosity's descent onto the planet. At the beginning of the clip the 15-foot wide heat shield can be seen separating from the capsule carrying the rover.

The images were recorded by the Mars Descent Imager, or MARDI, and pieced together at four frames per second to detail the final two and a half minutes of the rover's descent. According to NASA, the images needed to be reduced by a factor of eight in order for them to be sent back to Earth quickly. Higher resolution images (1600 by 1200) will be beamed to Earth in the coming months.

During the descent, the passing Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped a shot of the rover's supersonic parachute, which was designed to slow it from 900 miles per hour to around 200 miles per hour. The separated heat shield can be seen falling toward the surface.

The rover also sent a picture that shows the north wall and rim of the Gale Crater, the section of the planet where Curiosity touched down. The image is murky because the dust cover on the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) hasn't been removed. During the descent, dust kicked up by the Sky Crane's rockets coated the lens, but the protective cover will be removed in the coming weeks. MAHLI's main purpose is to capture close-ups of rocks and soil -- it can focus as close as 2.1 centimeters -- but can also focus to infinity, allowing it to capture images like the one of the Martian landscape.

Curiosity's mission on Mars will last about two years, and as NASA scientists enable more of the rover's imaging systems, higher resolution photos are expected in the coming days.

A series of images have been pieced together to create a video of the Mars rover Curiosity's descent onto the planet. The beginning images show the heat shield separation.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
Our Commenting Policies
Consumerization of IT: Be in the know
consumer tech

Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!