The New Mars Rover Has Landed Safely, Here Are The Details

The New Mars Rover Has Landed Safely, Here Are The Details

NASA's newest 2.5 billion dollar Mars rover named Curiosity successfully landed on the surface of the Red Planet early this morning. In this post I will try to update everyone on everything from the incredibly complex landing concept, the suspenseful live video of the landing itself, and the first images that this Rover has sent us.

Let's first start with NASA's overall plan. Apparently landing Curiosity on the surface of Mars is a little more difficult than using a Parachute. Many have said that Curiosity's landing may be the most complicated "landing" in history. Check out this video of the full explanation.

Due to Mar's distance away from us, signals from the rover will take 14 minutes to reach earth. This means that once we receive notice that the rover has started it's 7 minute decent, it's actually already succeeded or failed 7 minutes earlier. This also means that humans cannot control the rover's decent, everything must be done by computers on board.

Luckily for us, NASA recorded these 7 minutes of suspense early this morning so we can experience the terror and excitement along with them.

Now that Curiosity has landed successfully, it can finally get to work. The nuclear-powered rover’s head mast rises to nearly seven feet high with a camera for stereo color viewing. The top also holds a laser that can vaporize a speck of material on rocks up to 23 feet away to determine their elements.

So far we have received a couple of pretty low res images taken by one of the vehicle's lower-fidelity, black-and-white Hazard Avoidance Cameras.


In the near future we should expect to see much better images from the main cameras.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL, aka the Curiosity) has two mast cameras. One has a fixed 34mm f/8 lens that covers a 15° field of view, covering 1200x1200 pixels on a 1600 by 1200 CCD. The other is a fixed 100mm f/10 lens, with a 5.1° field of view on an identical sensor. You can see some pre-launch images taken with them here.

These cameras can actually do a lot more than what we've seen so far. They'll transmit color images as they have Bayer Pattern Filter CCDs, and have adjustable filters to capture different wavelengths of light:

Each Mastcam camera head also has a filter wheel, so that images taken by looking through filters covering different, narrow visible and near-infrared wavelengths can be obtained. Filters for the 34 mm Mastcam are (in nanometers): 440, 525, 550, 675, 750, 865, 1034, and 440(neutral density). Filters for the 100 mm Mastcam are (in nanometers): 440, 525, 550, 800, 905, 935, 1035, and 880(neutral density). The neutral density filters are for viewing the Sun. Each filter wheel also includes a visually clear (actually infrared rejection coated) filter for nominal RGB (red, green, blue) imaging using the Bayer Pattern CCD.

The cameras can also capture 720p video, full 360° panoramas, and even use both lenses to capture 3D images. This information won't be broadcast home instantly as the files are pretty large for such a long trip — the Rover has 8GB of onboard storage, and will transmit thumbnails back first, so that NASA can request the images it really wants to see. via Pop Photo

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5 Comments

Oh. I came here expecting some fun details about the on board cameras... you should write THAT article and have it ready for next time I come here.

Curiosity has built in instagram http://instagram.com/p/N_o_LBSUcJ/

8gb internal storage and 1200x1200 pixels? My iPhone does more.

sure, you dont send your photos 15 million miles away!

2.5 billion dollars!! and they could only manage 8GB of storage?! 720p video?! ... camera looks quite sturdy though(all metal?)..... they probably bought the extended warranty and service plans, sure if they didn't, they could of purchased the 1080p camera with cmos chips instead.