Curiosity Rover Mastcam Sends High-Resolution Color Images from Mars' Gale Crater
The 79 images that went into the large mosaics were taken on Aug. 8,
2012 PDT (Aug. 9, EDT) by Curiosity's 34-millimeter Mastcam. The black
areas indicate high-resolution images not yet returned by the rover.
This color image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows part of the wall of Gale Crater, the location on Mars where the rover landed on Aug. 5, 2012 PDT (Aug. 6, 2012 EDT). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
In one version of the large mosaic, the colors portrayed are unmodified
from those returned by the camera. The view is what a cell phone or
camcorder would record, since the Mastcam takes color pictures in the
exact same manner that consumer cameras acquire color images. The second
version shows the colors modified as if the scene were transported to
Earth and illuminated by terrestrial sunlight. This processing, called
“white balancing,“ is useful for scientists to be able to recognize and
distinguish rocks by their color in more familiar lighting.
A second section of the mosaic looks south of the landing site, towards
Mount Sharp, a peak that is about 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) high and
taller than Mt. Whitney in California. This provides an overview of the
eventual geologic targets Curiosity will explore in the next two years.
Close by is a rock-strewn, gravelly surface. Farther away is a dark dune
field, and beyond that lie the layered buttes and mesas of the
sedimentary rock of Mount Sharp.
Curiosity continues to be very healthy, with all instruments and engineering subsystems operating as planned. There are no science or instrument activities planned on Sol 5. Last night, the new flight software, which is optimized for surface operations, was tested for the first time and successfully executed all planned Sol 5 rover activities. The test demonstrated that the new software is ready to support the upcoming surface operations mission phase. After an afternoon nap, Curiosity then returned to operating on its previous flight software, as planned. The rover's primary main computer will be permanently transitioned to the new flight software on Aug. 13.
This Picasso-like self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity rover was taken by its navigation cameras, located on the now-upright mast. The camera snapped pictures 360-degrees around the rover, while pointing down at the rover deck, up and straight ahead. Those images are shown here in a polar projection. Most of the tiles are thumbnails, or small copies of the full-resolution images that have not been sent back to Earth yet. Two of the tiles are full-resolution.