Curiosity update: First colour photo!
After the Mars Curiosity Rover’s flawless descent, the team at NASA have now received the first colour image (top), showing the landscape to the north of the rover. It was taken on “Sol 1”—the first Martian day of operations—by MAHLI, the Mars Hand Lens Imager located on the rover’s arm. It displays the rim of the Gale Crater where the rover landed, but it’s murky because the transparent dust cover over the camera is coated with dust from the landing. The dust cover won’t be opened for at least a week—clearer images can be expected then. However, the dust cover of the rover’s left Hazard-Avoidance camera has been opened, allowing for better versions of the very first image the rover sent back. This second image shows the rover’s wheel on the Martian surface, taken through a fisheye lense. The third image was also taken through a fisheye lense, but the distortion was “linearised” to give a clearer view of the landscape—we can see the main target for study: Mount Sharp, a soaring peak 5.5 kilometres high. Its lower layers are expected to hold clues to past environmental change. Check out the shadow, though—I just think it’s adorable that some of the first pictures Curiosity takes are ‘selfies’.