The Curiosity rover has already started sending back amazing images of its successful landing on Mars (and these are just the preliminary low-resolution ones). Now the first video clip has also just been released, of the actual descent of the rover during the landing.
A new “oblique view” image has been posted on the HiRISE website showing an area inside Gale crater, the landing spot of the Curiosity rover. The high-resolution image, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows a portion of Mount Sharp and the surrounding terrain of layers, canyons, buttes and sand dunes. The viewing angle is 45˚, similar to looking out the window of an airplane. Zoom into the image to see all of the amazing detail!
After a nail-biting descent through the thin Martian atmosphere, the biggest and most sophisticated Mars rover so far, Curiosity, landed successfully last night inside its target zone within the huge Gale crater.
The “seven minutes of terror” during the descent turned into a celebration as signals received from the rover indicated it had performed a virtually flawless landing – amazing considering that the technique, using the “sky crane” to gently lower the rover to the surface, had never been used before until now.
There are now only two days left until Curiosity, the biggest and most complex Mars rover yet, attempts what is also the most complicated landing so far. It will be lowered to the surface via cables hanging down from the descent capsule – the so-called “sky crane” – a technique not used before until now.
Did Mars once have oceans? That is one of the oldest and most-debated questions about the Red Planet; the evidence has been tantalizing but also inconclusive so far. Now, two new studies are suggesting that indeed there was a large ocean in the northern hemisphere a long time ago.