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Is it the Mojave or Mars? New photos from the red planet may blur the line

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover


This is the first image taken by the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover. It shows the shadow of the rover's now-upright mast in the center, and the arm's shadow at left. The arm itself can be seen in the foreground.

Mars Curiosity


These are the first two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover, which are located on the rover's "head" or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground. The topography of the rim is very mountainous due to erosion. The ground seen in the middle shows low-relief scarps and plains. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover's descent stage thrusters.

Mars Curiosity


These images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) show a before-and-after comparison of the area where NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The images were taken by the Context Camera on MRO on Aug. 1 and Aug. 7.

mars rover curiosity

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Looking Back at the Crater Rim: This is the full-resolution version of one of the first images taken by a rear Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT). The image was originally taken through the "fisheye" wide-angle lens, but has been "linearized" so that the horizon looks flat rather than curved. The image has also been cropped. A Hazard-avoidance camera on the rear-left side of Curiosity obtained this image. Part of the rim of Gale Crater, which is a feature the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, stretches from the top middle to the top right of the image. One of the rover's wheels can be seen at bottom right.

mars curiosity rover

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image taken by NASA's Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, Mount Sharp. The rover's shadow can be seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is the highest peak Mount Sharp at a height of about 3.4 miles, taller than Mt. Whitney in California. The Curiosity team hopes to drive the rover to the mountain to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think hold clues to past environmental change. This image was captured by the rover's front left Hazard-Avoidance camera at full resolution shortly after it landed. It has been linearized to remove the distorted appearance that results from its fisheye lens.

Californians and other West Coast denizens may have a whole new drinking game on their hands, as even more pictures are released of the craggly, dune-y, suspiciously Mojave-looking “red planet."

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena have spent the past week piecing together panoramas of black and white images that the Mars rover Curiosity has been steadily sending since Sunday.

“You would really be forgiven for thinking that NASA was trying to pull a fast one on you and we actually put a rover out in the Mojave Desert and took a picture," said project scientist John Grotzinger, referencing one snapshot near the rim of Gale Crater. 

"The thing that’s amazing about this is [that] to a certain extent, the first impression you get is how earth-like this seems.”

Scientists said pictures of marks in the ground that rover engines made during landing reveal a first glimpse of bedrock below the planet’s pebbly surface.  

NASA plans to release more Mars photos over the next few days, including a color panorama.

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