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NASA Mars Orbiter takes picture of Curiosity rover




Curiosity Mars Rover as it drives across the red planet

NASA Mars Orbiter takes picture of Curiosity rover – and its tire tracks – as it probes an isolated Martian hill

  • Image was snapped using high-tech camera 200 miles above the red planet
  • It shows the rover and its tracks around the base of a small hill
  • Scientists are probing the area looking for signs of life on Mars

By Sam Webb

This awe-inspiring image shows Nasa’s Curiosity Mars Rover as it drives across the red planet and was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite   – 200 miles above the surface.

The car-sized robotic rover and the tracks it makes as it drives on the surface of the alien planet, 34 million miles away from Earth, are clearly   visible in this view from orbit, acquired on April 11 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s orbiter, the largest   ever carried on a deep space mission.

Scientists are using NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover to probe a rock layer surrounding the base of a small butte (an isolated hill with steep sides) called   ‘Mount Remarkable’.

It may be a potential target for investigating using tools on the rover’s robotic arm.

Curiosity Mars Rover as it drives across the red planet

Curiosity’s science team refers to the rock layer surrounding the base of Mount Remarkable, which is about five metres high, as the ‘middle unit’   because its location is intermediate between rocks that form buttes in the area and lower-lying rocks that show a pattern of striations – a series of   ridges, furrows or linear marks.

Depending on what the mission scientists learn from a close-up look at the rock and identification of chemical elements in it, a site on this middle   unit may become the third rock that Curiosity samples with its drill.

The rover carries laboratory instruments to analyse rock powder collected by the drill. The mission’s first two drilled samples, in an area called   Yellowknife Bay near Curiosity’s landing site, yielded evidence last year for an ancient lakebed environment with available energy and ingredients   favourable for microbial life.

The rover’s current location, where multiple types of rocks are exposed close together, is called ‘the Kimberley’.

Here and, later, at outcrops on the   slope of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater, researchers plan to use Curiosity’s science instruments to learn more about habitable past conditions and   environmental changes.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used its Navigation Camera


NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The project designed and built Curiosity and operates the rover on Mars.  Last week Nasa spoke out on the controversy surrounding a strange ‘glow’ spotted on Mars – and says it is either a shiny rock or a glitch in the   Curiosity rover’s camera.

UFO blogger Scott Waring claimed that the new photograph taken by the rover suggests there are intelligent creatures living underground.

However, Nasa investigated the image and found it was simply a trick of the light.  ‘One possibility is that the light is the glint from a rock surface reflecting the sun,’ a Nasa spokesperson told MailOnline.

‘When these images were taken each day, the sun was in the same direction as the bright spot, west-northwest from the rover, and relatively low in the   sky.

‘The rover science team is also looking at the possibility that the bright spots could be caused by cosmic rays striking the camera’s detector.’

Nasa’s engineers believe the glow may have been caused by sunlight reaching the camera’s sensors through a vent hole in the camera housing.

NASA Mars Orbiter takes picture of Curiosity rover

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