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Curiosity Caught in the Act!

7 August 2012

Curiosity Caught in the Act!


Curiosity caught by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter during its descent under parachute to the surface of Mars (close-up inset  is on the right) — NASA/JPL-Caltech and University of Arizona photo

NASA released a superb image of a unique event by capturing a photo of the Mars Science Laboratory (the rover named, Curiosity) within its descent stage under the fully deployed parachute. Capturing the moment was an incredible achievement of technology and physics.

The technology, as advanced as it is, might be the easy part. Perpetually falling around the the Red Planet is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) serving functions as remote exploration, weather observer and telecommunications satellite (receiving rover data and transmitting the information to Earth). Although the MRO has over six instruments the one that concerns this recent image is the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) since it is the camera, per se. HiRISE was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., operated by the University of Arizona and is a 0.5m reflecting telescope (500mm lens) generally capturing 16.4Gb images.

Getting the camera into position at the right time — that is the dramatic coincidence or almost unbelievable usage (I am not sure which) of physics since both the camera and rover were moving. Curiosity’s path and the MRO’s path were at right angles to one another — neither a lead or lag pursuit angle — making for the most narrow of photo opportunity. The MRO was 211 miles/340km at the moment the image was captured and thanks to NASA’s MRO site for the information (and image) which made this post possible.

The resulting image is historic, remarkable and awe inspiring for all of these reasons — it can be downloaded in one of various sizes here.

The remarkable image  without the inset — NASA/JPL-Caltech and University of Arizona photo

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 August 2012 06:38

    If there were Media in Mars, how would they have seen the mars landing of Curiosity!
    Read an imaginary news telecast from mars …Do read it in my blog

  2. 8 August 2012 14:02

    Timing is everything!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      8 August 2012 22:49

      Yes, as in all things 😉

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