HomePlanet5 Photos from Ten (Earth) Years of Curiosity

5 Photos from Ten (Earth) Years of Curiosity


The pictures that our robotic geologists (and robotic atmospheric scientists) convey again to us from different worlds assist us to narrate to those locations on a human scale. Nobody on the PVL have checked out extra photos of Mars than Alex and so, who higher to take us on a visible journey down reminiscence lane on this auspicious anniversary?

By Alex Innanen

August 6th marks 10 (earth) years since Curiosity
(AKA the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL, as a result of area folks love an excellent
acronym) landed in Gale Crater on Mars. In case you’ve been across the weblog, you’ll
know that many PVL-ers have had the possibility to work on the mission (myself
included) and there have been a plethora of posts over time about what
doing ENV operations is like, or what
cool science MSL is doing, or different huge mission occasions, just like the 2018
world mud storm or passing
2000 sols on Mars. So as to add to this assortment, and to have fun 10 years of
Curiosity (or 5 Mars years, a milestone reached this most up-to-date January), I’m
going to journey by a few of my favorite footage the rover has taken over
the previous decade.

First we’ve got the above image, a
basic selfie. Curiosity frequently poses for MAHLI (the Mars Hand Lens
Imager) to take these self portraits, which are literally mosaics of tens of
MAHLI photos. There’s a
implausible video of Curiosity’s arm shifting round to get all the images
that make up a selfie. This explicit selfie was captured in the course of the 2018
world mud storm, and you may see mud within the background obscuring the crater
rim. This is similar mud storm that heralded the tip of Alternative’s
mission, however Curiosity got here by with a lot of science (and nifty footage)
to point out for it.

Going all the way in which again in time to 2012, this
is a 360°
panorama of Curiosity’s touchdown website, named ‘Bradbury’ for the sci-fi
creator Ray Bradbury. Proper within the centre of the image is Mount Sharp (or
Aeolis Mons), the mountain within the centre of Gale Crater. Mount Sharp is made up
of sediments laid down in Gale Crater over an extended interval of Mars’ historical past, and
as Curiosity has climbed up it, it’s as if the rover has been travelling by
that historical past. However first it needed to get to the bottom of Mount Sharp, a visit which
took round 2 years trundling by the remnants of historic lakes and rivers.
I like taking a look at this panorama as a result of it provides a terrific thought of how far
Curiosity has traveled – over 28 km and 600 m of elevation, now. It is also a
nice ‘huge image’ shot – each new location Curiosity visits is (in my humble
opinion) gorgeous and distinctive in its personal manner, with a lot new and thrilling to
take a look at. This picture enables you to take a step again and take all of it in.

It might be remiss of me to not embrace a cloud image, so right here
it’s, my absolute favorite cloud shot. I could also be barely biased, as I used to be
on shift when this picture was deliberate, but it surely’s so dramatic, with the cliff face
(referred to as ‘Mont Mercou’) within the foreground and the glowing clouds behind. These
are Noctilucent clouds, which suggests ‘evening shining’, and had been captured at
twilight early this Mars 12 months (which was truly March of 2021 – Mars years
are lengthy). These sorts of clouds are excessive up within the ambiance, and are
illuminated by the setting solar, even seen when the solar has gone under the
horizon. That is what makes them seem to glow, nonetheless being illuminated whereas
the remainder of the sky darkens. These explicit twilight clouds appear to type extra
readily in Gale crater close to the start of the Mars 12 months, one thing the staff
found in Mars 12 months 35. In the beginning of Mars 12 months 36 (the present Mars
12 months) we began in search of them and had been
not disillusioned. One of many nice issues about Curiosity having been on
Mars for thus lengthy is the truth that we are able to see yearly repetitions like this and
give you a greater thought of what the Martian setting is as much as 12 months after
12 months.

blue sundown is spectacular and well-known to followers of the ‘pink’ planet. However
“what color is the Martian sky?” is a query I’ve been requested greater than as soon as
by these much less accustomed to Mars. And it’s a terrific query! Generally – like
on this image or the cloud image above, the sky seems extra blue, nearly
like earth’s sky. However at different occasions, like within the selfie or the Mount Sharp
panorama, it seems extra orange or yellow. There’s a couple of components behind this –
typically photos are colour-corrected (‘white-balanced’) to point out what a scene may
seem like underneath earth-like lighting. This might help scientists interpret
options inside a scene, making them look extra acquainted to higher examine to
earth, however doesn’t precisely signify what you may see in the event you had been standing
on the floor of Mars, which might be extra of a yellowy-orange sky.

Besides whenever you get near the solar, like on this sundown
image. Very similar to how earth’s scatters gentle, giving us a blue sky, so too
does mud within the Martian ambiance, however the blue wavelengths of sunshine largely
scatter forwards, so the blue color seems nearer to the solar. Because the solar
units, there may be extra ambiance and extra mud for the sunshine to scatter by,
in order that blue impact close to the solar turns into extra pronounced. 

I’m going to complete with this
absolute stunner of a picture, which mixes two NavCam (Navigation
digicam) mosaics of the identical scene, one taken within the morning and one within the
afternoon. They had been mixed to point out totally different panorama options which are
highlighted because the solar illuminates some areas and casts others into shadow. After
speaking concerning the colors of Mars, it’s possible you’ll be questioning what provides this picture
its hanging blue and yellow palette. The NavCams on Curiosity solely take
footage in black and white – color was added to this picture after the actual fact to
spotlight the lighting adjustments, with blue exhibiting morning options, yellow
exhibiting night options, and their mixture exhibiting simply that – a
mixture of the 2. This image is trying again down Mount Sharp in the direction of
the crater rim within the distance, and it looks like a becoming picture to shut this
blogpost on, trying again during the last nice 10 years with Curiosity.


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