Since NASA’s Curiosity landed on Mars on August 5, 2012, public excitement and speculation about what the rover will encounter continues to mount. To feed the appetite of the masses, we’ll continue to update our Curiosity gallery with NASA’s latest photos of the red planet, including panorama, composite and computer-generated images.
The next phase of the $2.5 billion mission, and by far the most daunting for Curiosity, will be reaching Mount Sharp. At a height of 3.4 miles, the highest peak of Mount Sharp is taller than Mt. Whitney in California. On its way, the rover will encounter dark dunes, degraded impact craters and other geologic features on the Martian surface of the planet. For updates follow @MarsCuriosity on Twitter.
Mars rover takes first drive; touchdown spot named for Ray Bradbury
By Amina Khan/Los Angeles Times
5:45 p.m. EDT, August 22, 2012
After two weeks of taking stock of its surroundings, the Mars Curiosity rover has taken its first “baby steps” and sent back images of its first tracks, NASA officials said Wednesday.
Engineers sent the commands Tuesday night for this first drive, which took about 16 minutes — mostly spent taking pictures, said lead rover driver Matt Heverly. During the test, the rover moved forward about 4½ meters, turned 120 degrees in place and then backed up 2½ meters — ending up about 6 meters, or roughly 20 feet, from its landing spot. As it moved forward, its boxy head turned from side to side, taking shots of its wheels in the process.
According to Heverly, the tracks in the Martian soil indicate, as expected, that the soil is firm, didn’t cause the rover to sink much and should be great for moving around in.
MORE: NASA lands Curiosity rover on Mars