Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Curiosity’s Latest High-Res Photo Looks Like Earth

Curiosity’s Latest High-Res Photo Looks Like Earth:

The Curiosity rover seems to be eagerly looking ahead at its eventual target, Mount Sharp, in this new color photo taken with the probe’s Mast cameras.
Just a small piece of a larger panoramic mosaic taken last week, the photo looks southeast to the base of the 3-mile-high mountain, which sits in the center of Gale crater. Immediately in front of the rover is the gravelly surface upon which it landed followed by two sand fields separated by a darker region. The first sand patch is about 1.5 miles away while the second is about 2 miles. Because it is a panoramic mosaic, the picture gives a skewed and foreshortened perspective.
Approximately 5 miles away is the base of Mount Sharp, pockmarked with buttes and mesas that are each about the height a several-story building. JPL’s scientists working on Curiosity have noted several times how much this landscape looks like similar areas in the southwestern United States. Curiosity will explore these areas for signs of habitability and help determine the history of water on the Red Planet.
The colors in this image are not what a human standing on Mars would see — the presence of dust in the atmosphere would make the scene appear much redder. Instead, the pictures have been white-balanced to show how it would appear under typical Earth lighting conditions. This will help the Earth-centered geologists who are trained to recognize features based on how they look using more familiar light.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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