Two amazing Curiosity descent videos

By Phil Plait | August 23, 2012 9:52 am

In case you’re not getting enough Curiosity in your life, here are two videos, both showing the descent from the rover’s eye view. However, these are new and pretty different!

The first video shows the descent using the high-resolution images from the MARDI (Mars Descent Imager), which have been further cleaned up and sharpened. It’s truly magnificent! Make sure you set the video to hi-res and make it full screen:

The second video is really clever: it keeps the heat shield centered in the screen, so you can follow the entire fall of the shield down to its impact on the surface of Mars.

I’ve been a scientist a long time, and I’ve worked on astronomical and space imagery since I was in high school. I’ve used film I loaded, developed, and printed myself; I’ve used giant glass plates sprayed with film emulsion and hand-guided a telescope for hours; I’ve used a digital detector that was less than a megapixel and felt like it was the greatest invention ever; and I’ve had a hand in building a camera with three digital detectors that went on board Hubble. So I’ve watched as – and participated in – this revolution in astronomical imagery as it’s unfolded.

And I strongly suspect the single greatest thing about it is the power of pictures it puts into people’s hands. We have images taken by far-flung spacecraft beamed back to Earth at the speed of light, and then sent around the world in minutes by space agencies. From there space enthusiasts and professional filmmakers alike can take that vast archive of data and play with it, show different things, bring out details we at first hadn’t seen.

And we are seeing the results now, as we literally follow the rover down to Mars in high-def, or watch as an ejected piece of hardware plummets to the surface of an alien world.

I’ve said before, and it’ll always be true: The future! We are in you!


Related Posts:

Curiosity rolls!
Curiosity spins its wheels
Gallery – Curiosity’s triumphant first week on Mars
Watch as Curiosity touches down gently *and* its heat shield slams into Mars

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures, Space
MORE ABOUT: Curiosity, heat shield, Mars
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