Friday, August 24, 2012

Curiosity: Landing Video; and Settling In

"NASA Mars Rover Begins Driving at Bradbury Landing"
Mission News, Mars Science Laboratory (August 22, 2012)

"NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from its landing site, which scientists announced today they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.

"Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity's drive combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago.

"NASA has approved the Curiosity science team's choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

" 'This was not a difficult choice for the science team,' said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. 'Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars.'..."

"This 360-degree panorama shows evidence of a successful first test drive for NASA's Curiosity rover. On Aug. 22, 2012, the rover made its first move, going forward about 15 feet (4.5 meters), rotating 120 degrees and then reversing about 8 feet (2.5 meters). Curiosity is about 20 feet (6 meters) from its landing site, now named Bradbury Landing. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech"

Taking a Look Around

Like many travelers, Curiosity is taking time to settle in before heading out to get a closer look at local attractions. In the case of this semi-autonomous robot, it's particularly important to check out equipment. Curiosity is a long way from home, and roadside service isn't available in Gale Crater. Not yet, anyway.

Here's a detail of that panoramic scene Curiosity sent back, showing spots where landing rockets marked the ground.

"...Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast.

" 'Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care,' said Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. 'Sixteen days in, we are making excellent progress.'..."
("Mission News")

Video from Mars

This video is a bit choppy. Bear in mind, though: it was taken by a robot; and sent from Mars. Audio is what folks in mission control, back on Earth, were saying.

"Curiosity Lands on Mars"

NASA/JPL - Cal Tech (August 5, 2012)
via Brian Gill, YouTube (August 24, 2012)
video, 3:32
(Original video: "Dropping in on Mars in High-Res")

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