Humanity's robotic minion on Mars can be seen from orbit

Mars rover
Public Domain NASA

Now for something a bit different - not quite environmental news - but still quite cool for anyone interested in humanity's never-ending quest to better understand our fascinating universe... I'm still amazed that people walked on the moon (I know everybody's supposed to act all blasé about it because it happened long ago, but that just makes it even more impressive, in my opinion -- someone took a walk on another astral body using 50-year old technology!), and hopefully are getting closer to having people land on Mars, a much more difficult goal.

In the meantime, we have a robotic presence on the planet. It can even be seen from orbit, as this NASA photo shows. The blue dot on the bottom right is Curiosity, and if you follow its tracks you can see where it landed ("Bradbury Landing").

Curiosity's mission is: "[the] investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration."

HiRISE shot this image on June 27, 2013, when Curiosity was at an outcrop called "Shaler" in the "Glenelg" area of Gale Crater. Subsequently the rover drove away from Glenelg toward the southwest.

When HiRISE captured this view, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was rolled for an eastward-looking angle rather than straight downward. The afternoon sun illuminated the scene from the western sky, so the lighting was nearly behind the camera. Specifically, the angle from sun to orbiter to rover was just 5.47 degrees. This geometry hides shadows and reveals subtle color variations. [...] HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Mars Curiosity RoverNASA/Public Domain

High-resolution image available here.

Via NASA, Atlantic

See also: What if the moon was replaced by planets from our solar system?

Tags: Space


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