NASA’s Curiosity rover has been on Mars for a little over a day now and it’s already beaming back a bunch of incredible images.
The first color image, shown below, was taken on the afternoon of the first day after landing. It was snapped by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) located on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm. The arm isn’t fully deployed yet, so it takes pictures at a bit of a tilt. The picture has been rotated to correct that tilt. This camera is designed to take very close, high-resolution images of rocks and soil on the Martian surface.
Looking north, the image shows the wall and rim of Gale Crater (where the rover landed) in the distance. The crater is about the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.
The photo was taken with the camera’s transparent dust cover closed. The image looks a little cloudy because of some dust that was blown onto the camera during the rover’s risky landing.
The first images without the dust cover are expected later this week.
UPDATE 1:42 p.m. EDT: NASA released some more photos at a press conference this afternoon. These were taken by a camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at 10:30 p.m. PT on Aug. 6. In the first photo, called “The Crime Scene,” Curiosity is about 4,000 feet from the heat shield, 2,000 feet from the back shell and 2,100 feet from the skycrane. The large white splotch in the second photo is Curiosity’s parachute.