Skip to main content

Mars rover captures nearby rocket 'footprint'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:29 PM EDT, Tue August 14, 2012
Curiosity, NASA's Mars rover used the equivalent of a dust broom on its robotic arm to sweep away reddish, oxidized dust, revealing this gray patch of rock that resembles a paving stone. The rock is called "Bonanza King" and the rover team wants to use it as the rover's fourth drilling target, if it passes an evaluation by engineers. The photo was taken August 17, 2014, using the rover's mast camera, or Mastcam. Click through to see more of its images. Curiosity, NASA's Mars rover used the equivalent of a dust broom on its robotic arm to sweep away reddish, oxidized dust, revealing this gray patch of rock that resembles a paving stone. The rock is called "Bonanza King" and the rover team wants to use it as the rover's fourth drilling target, if it passes an evaluation by engineers. The photo was taken August 17, 2014, using the rover's mast camera, or Mastcam. Click through to see more of its images.
HIDE CAPTION
Photos: Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mars landscape resembles Mojave Desert, scientist observes
  • NEW: Images are used to program the rover for the next day, controller says
  • Curiosity photos capture gouges left by its dramatic landing
  • Two snags reported Tuesday have been resolved, controllers say

Pasadena, California (CNN) -- The Mars rover Curiosity successfully raised the mast that holds many of its instruments Wednesday, giving controllers a view of the ground scorched by the rockets that deposited it on the surface.

The car-sized rover landed on Mars early Monday after a harrowing descent that climaxed with its being lowered by a "skycrane" that hovered over the landing site. Cameras mounted on Curiosity's remote sensing mast beamed back fresh images of the site once the column was raised into position, giving NASA a view of the roughly half-meter (19-inch) "scour marks" from the rocket exhaust.

Those gouges are giving mission controllers an unexpectedly early view of the bedrock beneath the surface of Gale Crater, said John Grotzinger, a Curiosity project scientist at the California Institute of Technology.

Mars rover beams back 'awesome' shot of surface

Images of Mars' earth-like landscape
Mars 'crime scene' photos
What to expect next from Mars rover
Rover images of Curiosity landing site
Water-ice clouds, polar ice and other geographic features can be seen in this full-disk image of Mars from 2011. NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover touched down on the planet on August 6, 2012. Take a look at stunning photographs of Mars over the years. Check out images from the Mars rover Curiosity. Water-ice clouds, polar ice and other geographic features can be seen in this full-disk image of Mars from 2011. NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover touched down on the planet on August 6, 2012. Take a look at stunning photographs of Mars over the years. Check out images from the Mars rover Curiosity.
Exploring Mars
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Exploring Mars Photos: Exploring Mars

"Apparently, there is a harder, rockier material beneath this veneer of gravel and pebbles, and obviously there's some impact ejecta," Grotzinger told reporters at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where controllers operate the rover. While Curiosity isn't yet ready to start driving around, "Here we've already got an exploration hole drilled for us," Grotzinger said.

The mission of the mobile science laboratory is to determine whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting life. Its prime target is the 18,000-foot (5,500-meter) peak at the center of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp, where scientists hope to get a layer-by-layer look at the history of the planet.

Grotzinger said so far, the landscape looks somewhat familiar.

"The thing that really struck the science team about this image is that you would really be forgiven for thinking that NASA was trying to pull a fast one on you and we actually put a rover out in the Mojave Desert and took a picture -- a little L.A. smog coming in there," he said.

Mars rover: Is all this really necessary?

Controllers are still activating Curiosity's instrument package, and all antennas that will beam back data to JPL "work perfectly," mission manager Jennifer Trosper said Wednesday. The onboard weather monitoring unit has turned out to be "completely healthy" following a brief glitch reported Tuesday. The high-bandwidth antenna that aims back at Earth is beaming back "lots and lots of data" and the rover is expected to capture a color panorama of its surroundings on Thursday, she said.

"There are going to be some amazing images from that," Trosper said.

Vandi Tompkins, one of Curiosity's operators, said images like those beamed back so far will be used to program the rover's movements when it gets under way.

Because of the time needed for a radio signal from Earth to reach the rover -- about 14 minutes at Mars' current position -- "We don't command the rover with a joystick or a steering wheel in real time," Tompkins said. "If we were to do that, by the time we would see we were at the edge of a cliff, the rover would have driven off of it."

Opinion: Did Mars landing make science cool again?

Instead, operators use the photos to develop a plan for the next day's operations and transmit it to the rover, which carries it out and sends back the results.

Curiosity will start its third full martian day, or sol, on Thursday. A sol is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth.

The rover is supposed to run for two years, but a previous rover, Opportunity, has been working on Mars since 2004 -- well beyond the three months NASA planned. Opportunity's sister rover, Spirit, ran from 2004 to 2010.

CNN's John Zarrella contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT