Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover seen in new satellite image
Published: 14th Aug 2012 18:31:39
Nasa has used its high-resolution imaging satellite at the Red Planet to look down on the Curiosity rover and acquire a new picture of the recently landed six-wheeled robot.
The vehicle appears as a round dot.
The view from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been colour enhanced to emphasise certain ground features.
These include the disturbance in the soil made either side of the vehicle by the rocket powered crane that lowered Curiosity into Gale Crater a week ago.
Since then, engineers have been checking out its systems and instruments.
The past four days have been spent upgrading the vehicle's onboard software.
Curiosity runs two computers - a main unit and a back-up. Both have been updated to what programmers call the R10 configuration.
This software is optimised for surface operations, enabling the rover to drive, drill into rocks and take samples into the laboratories inside its body.
The update also removed all the code used by Curiosity during the complex manoeuvres required to land in Gale Crater, a deep depression on Mars' equator.
The mission team will continue to shake down the vehicle and its instruments in the coming days. A first drive is expected next week.
Curiosity's ultimate goal is to drive to the base of the big mountain in the centre of Gale known as Mount Sharp.
There, it is expected to find rocks that were laid down billions of years ago in the presence of liquid water.
Curiosity will probe these sediments for evidence that past environments on Mars could once have favoured microbial life.
The key science targets are about 8km away, but it will take several more km to find a drivable route across the rugged terrain.
Researchers hope to have the rover at the base of Mount Sharp in a year's time.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover seen in new satellite image. [Online] (Updated 14 Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/1446192-Nasas-Curiosity-Mars-rover-seen-in-new-satellite-image [Accessed 19th May 2013]
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