Curiosity’s main mission aims at discovering evidence of life on the Red Planet.
Scientists at NASA control center were ecstatic to detect signal levels coming from the one-ton rover which withstood the difficult 7-minute descent regarded as one of the thoughest sequence of the entire mission.
According to NASA, the landing procedure involved a huge parachute and a rocket that helped Curiosity fix flawlessly its tether on Mars surface. Thus the car-sized vehicle ended a 36-week flight before starting a two-year research period.
“I can’t believe this. This is unbelievable,” enthused Allen Chen, the deputy head of the rover’s descent and landing team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles.
Shortly after touching down, Curiosity sent back to Earth its first 3 photos of the Martian surface, one of the pictures featuring a wheel of the robot and the rover’s shadow lying on the surrounding rocks.
According to the U.S. space agency, Curiosity’s official landing occured on August 5, 2012 at 10:32 p.m. or Aug. 6 at 5:32 GMT.
NASA writes that: “Curiosity image (see below) was taken through a “fisheye” wide-angle lens on the left “eye” of a stereo pair of Hazard-Avoidance cameras on the left-rear side of the rover. The image is one-half of full resolution. The clear dust cover that protected the camera during landing has been sprung open. Part of the spring that released the dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover’s wheel. On the top left, part of the rover’s power supply is visible. Some dust appears on the lens even with the dust cover off.
The cameras are looking directly into the sun, so the top of the image is saturated. Looking straight into the sun does not harm the cameras. The lines across the top are an artifact called “blooming” that occurs in the camera’s detector because of the saturation.
As planned, the rover’s early engineering images are lower resolution. Larger color images from other cameras are expected later in the week when the rover’s mast, carrying high-resolution cameras, is deployed.”
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