Automaton iconAutomaton

First Color Image from Curiosity in Descent Phase [UPDATE 2: VIDEO]

We've been expecting to see an image from the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) sometime today (that would be, Sol 1 for Curiosity on Mars), and here it is, more amazing than we could ever have imagined. You're seeing one single low resolution thumbnail from a video looking straight down that MARDI recorded between the time that the heat shield detached and the time that Curiosity touched down, showing the shield dropping away from Curiosity as she heads for the surface. And there's more.


Read More

Curiosity Hazcam Images May Show Crater Rim, Slopes of Mt. Sharp [UPDATED]

 The green diamond in this image represents JPL's current best guess as to Curiosity's landing spot on Mars, with the landing ellipse in blue. The green shaded areas (estimated by IEEE Spectrum) represent the field of view of Curiosity's Hazcams.

Last night, there was some speculation about just what exactly was visible on the horizon in the first Hazcam pics from Curiosity. After some additional late-night (or rather, early morning) analysis, the MSL team has some guesses about what we're looking at, along with an estimate of Curiosity's position on the surface. In other words: we now know approximately where the rover is, as well as which way she's facing, which makes what we're seeing in the Hazcam images [UPDATE: check out a brand new front Hazcam image below!] that much more amazing.

Read More

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Snaps Spectacular Pic of MSL's Descent

This image, revealed at the 9AM post-landing press conference at JPL, has to be one of the most spectacular space pictures ever taken, ever. It was captured last night by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and unveiled by Sarah Milkovich, investigation scientist with MRO's HiRISE camera. It shows MSL about six minutes into its descent, heading towards the surface at Gale Crater. Wow.

Read More

Curiosity Rover Alive and Well on Surface of Mars

The post-landing press conference turned out to be less of a press conference, and more of a chance for the entire MSL team to celebrate and accept congratulations from each other and the rampant adulation of their fans (all of us in the media, me definitely included). Don't hold it against them, they totally deserved it. We do know that as far as the data indicate, everything has gone very well, and Curiosity appears to be in perfect health. It'll take a few days to really check everything out, and we'll get an update tomorrow (er, later today) at 9am and then again at 4pm, with the 4pm briefing likely to be the most interesting (and most picture-filled). 

We'll be back tomorrow morning to keep on bringing you all the news as it happens, but to tide you over until then, have a look at one more picture from Curiosity's hazcam:

See that feature at the upper right? It could be a mountain. Or it could be the rim of Gale Crater. They're not quite sure, but tomorrow, we may find out.

Curiosity Sends Back Surprise Hazcam Pics

Here are a pair of images from Curiosity's left rear hazcam and left front hazcam, respectively. We weren't expecting any front hazcam images this early, and we also weren't expecting such high resolution images, so this is really really amazing, and here at JPL people are going nuts. Oh, and they're also handing out Mars bars.

As soon as we're done being nuts and scarfing candy, we'll get settled in for the press conference, which should be full of good news! We'll likely have an update for you before midnight.

The official landing time, for those of you keeping track, was 10:32PM. And at least from here, it looked like everything went almost flawlessly.

SUCCESS: Curiosity Lands Safely on Mars After Epic Descent

We'll have lots more for you later, but YES, according the data we have so far, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity has successfully landed at Gale Crater on Mars! The mood here at JPL is absolutely insane! The press conference should start soon, and we'll get you all the details as soon as we can, along with pics as soon as they're available.


What JPL Has to Hear Before They Celebrate

JPL held a couple press conferences today, giving a final overview of the EDL (Entry, Descent, and Landing) procedures. Engineers related a whole bunch of interesting info, and we've summarized it all right here for you. It's a good read while you're waiting for that 10:31 PM touchdown.

Read More

MSL: When We'll See the First New Pictures from the Surface of Mars

After Curiosity successfully lands on Mars, the first thing everybody (including us) is going to want to know is when we'll get the first pictures back from the surface. Curiosity has a whole bunch of cameras, ranging from small hazard avoidance cameras on her body up to HD cameras on her mast, but in the first few hours and days communications will be limited. We'll tell you what you can expect to see first, and the general schedule for image releases going forward.

Read More


IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:

Erico Guizzo
New York City
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Automaton newsletter and get biweekly updates about robotics, automation, and AI, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Load More