Thursday, August 9, 2012

Curiosity Photo Of Mars

Space Exploration

Mars rover picture - Mount Sharp seen after landing by NASA rover Curiosity
Photo of Mars: It's interesting to note that many of the photos have an Ansel Adams feel to them. "On the opposite side of the rover, one of Curiosity's eight hazard-avoidance cameras shot this black-and-white picture of the rover's shadow stretching toward Mount Sharp on Monday," National Geographic writes. 
Photo Credit: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2012.
Source: National Geographic

It's no secret that I have always had an interest in space travel and in the space and discovery programs of NASA; I remember with excitement the Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s, culminating in my mind with Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon on July 21, 1969. The Space Program was largely responsible for securing my interest in hard sciences and for influencing my desire to study engineering; as was then common with many young budding scientists, I wanted to work for NASA. 

So, when the Curiosity rover landed on Mars earlier this week, to be precise at 1:32 a.m. (EDT) on Monday August 6th, after a 36-week flight and a 352 million-mile journey, I had to take a look at the photos; there's one above and a link to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab for more. It's both fascinating and surreal; it's also a view into another world different than ours. 

As National Geographic writes:

Centered in Gale Crater, the 18,000-foot (5,500-meter) peak "is taller than any mountain in the lower 48 [U.S.] states," geologist John Grotzinger, part of the Curiosity team, said at a July 16 press conference. The goal is for the rover—also called the Mars Science Laboratory—to climb Mount Sharp and analyze layers spanning all of Mars's major geological epochs.
Along the way, the so-called Hazcams will help spot obstacles that could stymie even this remarkably capable rover.
Curiosity is capable of climbing slopes inclined up to 30 degrees, depending on the firmness of the surface.
"We [have done] simulations with the engineering teams to find paths that we could be very secure in," Grotzinger said. "If one doesn't work, we can go down and pick another."
The chief aim of NASA's $2.5-billion mission is to determine if Mars has an environment that can supoort life, in particular microbial life. The one-ton rover has been designed to conduct analyses of air, rock and soil samples—it is loaded with 10 scientific instruments. The Curiosity rover was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Nov. 26, 2011. It will stay on the planet for about two years. Congratulations are due to the team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

You can read more and receive daily updates at [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory].


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