This color full-resolution image showing the heat shield of NASA's Curiosity rover was obtained during descent to the surface of Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The image was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI and shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft.
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.
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.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Curiosity's Heat Shield in View: This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface of Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The image was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI and shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft. It was obtained two and one-half minutes before touching down on the surface of Mars and about three seconds after heat shield separation. It is among the first color images Curiosity sent back from Mars. The resolution of all of the MARDI frames is reduced by a factor of eight in order for them to be promptly received on Earth during this early phase of the mission. Full resolution (1,600 by 1,200 pixel) images will be returned to Earth over the next several months as Curiosity begins its scientific exploration of Mars. The original image from MARDI has been geometrically corrected to look flat. Curiosity landed inside of a crater known as Gale Crater.
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.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This is one of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on the morning of Aug. 6, 2012. It was taken through a fisheye wide-angle lens on the left "eye" of a stereo pair of Hazard-Avoidance cameras on the left-rear side of the rover. The image is one-half of full resolution.
KPCC reporters had been talking to Southland scientists and engineers and counting down the days until NASA's most ambitious rover yet — Curiosity — prepares to land on the Martian surface. Follow the series online.
With its Google Android shadow and Gabby Douglas landing, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity began sending images of itself in its surroundings within seconds of safely arriving on the surface of the red planet Sunday night/Monday morning.
Within two hours of settling in to its new Martian home, the world's coolest remote control vehicle transmitted to Mission Control — located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena — a higher resolution image of Gale Crater taken by a Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam).
Other shots show a towering mound they believe to be a three-mile high mountain called Mount Sharp. Both Gale Crater and Mount Sharp are of interest to geologists who can study them for insights into Mars' past.
NASA announced Friday that Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or Space X, will receive $440 million toward developing small spaceships to take astronauts to the International Space Station.
Space X, founded by billionaire PayPal co-creator and Tesla Motors head, Elon Musk, was one of three aerospace companies named to develop the ferrying flying machines. Boeing was also selected to receive $460 million, and Sierra Nevada Corp. won a contract worth $212.5 million.
"We have selected three companies that will help keep us on track to end the outsourcing of human spaceflight and create high-paying jobs in Florida and elsewhere across the country," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement.
Together, the winners will share more than $1.1 billion as part of NASA's efforts to get private companies to do what the space shuttle no longer does. Currently, the U.S. space agency relies on Russia for ISS transport at the cost of about $63 million per astronaut.
Screenshot via United Launch Alliance
The 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base published a media advisory Wednesday night announcing the initial delay of the Atlas V launch. A second push was issued some time later with the rescheduled launch now expected Aug. 4.
An "uprange instrumentation issue" kept the rocket Earth-bound, however no issues were reported with the Atlas V vehicle or the NROL-36 space vehicle.
The launch window is now set for Aug 4 at 12:13 a.m., and a live simulcast will begin on the ULA website about 20 minutes prior to launch. ULA is a Lockheed Martin and Boeing joint venture providing "access to space" for U.S. government missions.
An X1.4 class solar flare exploded from the center of the sun on Thursday, but it's unclear whether Earth will feel the effects. The flare, peaking on July 12, erupted from "Active Region 1520," a giant sunspot.
The associated coronal mass ejections -- described by NASA as "huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the sun" -- have the potential to produce Earthly disturbances "with sometimes catastrophic results."
Disruptions to the magnetic field, and to our power grids and communication systems, are possible according to some space weather forecasters. NASA and NOAA had inconsistent predictions about the severity, speed and arrival time of the charged particle blast (the Washington Post has a detailed breakdown on the breakdown in communication between the federal agencies).
Photo: NASA; ESA; M. Showalter, SETI Institute
This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle marks the newly discovered moon, designated P5, as photographed by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on July 7.
A far-out fifth moon has been discovered orbiting the distant "dwarf planet" Pluto -- the one-time planet planet demoted by Caltech's Kavali Prize-winning astrophysicist Mike Brown.
With the use of the Hubble telescope, a team of scientists spotted the smallest moon yet around Pluto, NASA announced Wednesday.
The mini-moon, estimated to be 6 to 15 miles across, will be called P5 until a catchier name is decided upon. P5 is even smaller than last year's discovery of moon number four, measured at 8 to 21 miles wide. Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is about 650 miles across.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is speeding toward the icy object with a planned flyby in July 2015 (Pluto was still considered a full-fledged planet when the craft launched in 2006).