Curiosity Lifts Up Its Head

The first pics from Curiosity's Navcam show an Earth-like landscape

1 min read
Curiosity Lifts Up Its Head

And it's up! Curiosity has lifted up the mast containing its main navigational cameras and has snapped this view of the rim of Gale Crater (Curiosity's landing site) using the rover's right Navcam.

At a press conference on Wednesday, project scientist John Grotzinger quipped you'd be "forgiven for thinking NASA was trying to pull a fast one on you" by sending a rover to the Mojave Desert. The landscape may look Earth-like, he said, because it was created by water that flowed from and eroded mountains in the distance. He also called attention to a few splotches on the left hand side of the image, which were made by thrusters that helped deliver the rover to the Martian surface. This "free trenching" has exposed some underling bedrock, which the rover may explore. 

Curiosity is still in its initial post-landing health check-out phase, and there are, as you might expect, many more photos on the way. On NASA TV today, the Curiosity team showed a small 360-degree panorama, pieced together from thumbnails, that was taken with the rover's 1-megapixel Navcams. They expect to have a full resolution version of this panorama ready in the next day or two. 

Also still to come are images from the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam), which consists of two 2-megapixel camera systems, one with a telephoto lens and the other with a medium-angle lens. Each can take color pictures and deliver high-definition video.

Image: NASA /JPL/James Canvin

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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