Gallery – Curiosity's triumphant first week on Mars

By Phil Plait | August 13, 2012 7:00 am


Comments (35)

  1. Chris

    I wonder if they thought about putting some tarp over Curiosity to prevent the debris from getting on the rover during landing. Maybe the risk of it getting stuck was too high.

  2. Blargh

    @ Chris:
    They decided not to because of all the Admiral Ackbar meme images it would spawn.

  3. renke

    a CompPro joystick? NASA’s engineers are geeks :)

  4. Daniel J. Andrews

    Re: Picture of Curiosity’s wheel. Apparently, it prints out JPL in morse code in the dirt as it rolls along.

  5. ctj

    i’ve always been curious (no pun intended) about how they calibrate the color.

    it’s not as simple as bringing along a color wheel or strip that has a bunch of reference colors on it, since the sky itself is affecting what wavelengths of sunlight get through, and the ambient light of the sky also affects the color of things on the ground. it’s like how things on earth can look different colors, depending on whether it’s a cloudy or a sunny day.

  6. MichaelL65

    Will somebody please think of the Martian cats?

  7. Earth Is The True Planet Of War, Not Mars (Curiosity Rover)

  8. The panorama you’ve linked is actually only 10000 x 1420 when you exclude the empty white space. Follow the link in my username to access the NASA Photojournal page containing the 29184 x 4144 original.

  9. thebiggnome

    The parachute slowed it to sub-sonic speed. What *is* the speed of sound on Mars, anyway?

  10. Arthur Maruyama

    @ Daniel J. Andrews:

    J . – – –
    P . – – .
    L . – . .
    In the Wheels Down pic the J is at the edge of the shadow on the wheel.

    To complete the pattern they could have added:
    H . . . .

    Sorry for the extra long first dash: autocorrection is playing with my typing.

  11. Chris

    @8 thebiggnome
    A quick google has a speed of sound on Mars at ~240 m/s. For comparison, on Earth at sea level and room temp it is ~340 m/s, or about 1 mile every five seconds.

  12. steve m

    “it’s not as simple as bringing along a color wheel or strip that has a bunch of reference colors on it, since the sky itself is affecting what wavelengths of sunlight get through, and the ambient light of the sky also affects the color of things on the ground.”

    That’s what the “whitebalance” function in most camera’s (or photoshop) accomplish. It compensates for the ambient light color by rebalancing the spectrum, so a white card will produce a white image. If you want an image of the “true” color of an object, irrespective of the lighting, then, you’ll want to do a “whitebalance”. If you want an image of what the human eye would see at that time and place, then your question is still valid. They would have to provide known light sources (monochromatic LED’s maybe) to shine into the lens for calibration.
    Just speculating, I’m not associated with the JPL (or any space agency or provider) at all.

  13. Bill

    That panoramic mosaic is gorgeous, but the conspiracy nutbags are going to tee off on the missing tiles in black. After all, it’s “obvious” that NASA is hiding something, and this time they’re not even trying to be subtle about it!

    We should set up a conspiracy bingo game for what they’ll claim is hidden behind the black squares:
    – Proof that the photos were actually taken in the Mohave Desert
    – The face on Mars
    – Hoaglund’s alien cities
    – The Martian Bigfoot
    – UFO bases
    Nazi UFO bases

    …and so on, and so on, and…

  14. Peter

    Hmmm, under THE SURFACE OF ANOTHER WORLD Phil said “That last part sounds familiar to me. After all, I’ve seen similar rocks and sand in dry lake beds in Arizona, New Mexico, and my home state of Colorado, formed in the same way and also coated with red dust. At a glance they’d be hard to tell apart from the rocks seen here.”

    BBC Said ( “Scientists have remarked that the rover’s surroundings resembled parts of the southwestern US.”

    I think someone at the BBC is a BA fan.

  15. Kent Crispin

    What puzzles me is the apparent haze in the distance. The martian atmosphere is very thin, and hence should be very transparent. Could this be remnant very fine dust from the landing?

  16. Chris M

    The sky in the background looks really hazy. Is there always a lot of dust kicking around in the atmosphere like this? Will be be able to get clearer shots of mountains off in the distance?

  17. Eric H

    Wonderful! Am I the only one that is getting tears in my eyes by just looking at these images?

  18. Wzrd1

    @14, Bill. Naw, the blacked out tiles are hiding the Martians who are putting the Mars Needs Moms mural. 😉

  19. amphiox

    Earth Is The True Planet Of War, Not Mars (Curiosity Rover)

    Earth is also the planet of peace, love, laughter, justice, apple pie, the American Way, knowledge, wisdom, science, art, and internet trolls.

    Because, you know, earth is where the people are.

  20. Peter Eldergill

    Just went through these photos whilst listening to “I Am The Doctor” without even realizing it. Awesome


  21. BadDragon

    Under one of the black tiles was an old style British blue phone booth and a strange guy with a bow tie searching for water with what apparently was a screwdriver equipped with lots of shiny LEDs.

  22. MichaelL65

    @Kent Crispin, I believe that there was quite a large dust storm just days before the landing. The haze could be from that.

  23. Infinite123Lifer

    I am a bit flabbergasted though by the pictures.. In a couple there it looks like a roving chem-lab blasted its way to Mars and took a picture of its dusty self, to put it simply. Some of those pictures are just out of this world . . . far out, Marsaculous photo’s.

    Bye Bye heat shield has my star ship pointed at approximately 10 o’clock . . . and chemtrails. :)

    I am more into Curiosity Theory but bingo is always fun.

  24. LarryR

    Mind-boggling, to say the least. To someone born in the 1950’s, these photos and what is behind being able to take them is utterly thrilling. I still get a thrill from every Hubble picture I see for the first time (or 44th time, for that matter). Heck, I get a thrill from walking outside my apartment and seeing the moon in the murky SoCal skies. I am just sorry that my parents, uncle, and cousin passed away before this event, as they were all amateur astronomers and telescope makers and would be following this devotedly.

    Thanks, BA, for the great blog to share these great images with us, and thanks, NASA, for a great mission and continuing to go further and farther all the time.

    Eric H. – No, you aren’t the only one getting tears in your eyes.

  25. BadDragon

    Hello Phil,

    One question for you. NASA announced a “brain transplant” for Curiosity, a software change. Do you know if this is just an improved software or is it a new software to control Curiosity while on Mars’ surface, while the previous one was controlling the landing on Mars with minimal after-landing subroutines?

    NASA was not very clear about it.

    Thank you.

  26. Chris

    I’m looking forward to the day we can view high resolution smooth video from Mars. NASA should do whatever is needed to make this happen. I think this would really inspire a generation

  27. Nigel Depledge

    Renke (3) said:

    NASA’s engineers are geeks

    Is this news?

  28. Nigel Depledge

    Daniel J Andrews (4) said:

    Apparently, it prints out JPL in morse code in the dirt as it rolls along.

    Di-dah-dah-dah, Di-dah-dah-dit, Di-dah-di-dit?

  29. Bill

    @Nigel, #30:


  30. Paulino

    The 11th picture clearly demonstrates the need for Car-wash mission to Mars!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar