NASA releases color video of Curiosity's dramatic descent

134

After having successfully landed on the Mars yesterday, NASA's Curiosity rover has now begun transmitting images taken during its dramatic descent. The craft's onboard Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) captured a total of 1,054 images during Curiosity's landing, 297 of which were beamed back to Earth on Monday. These early color photos are of low resolution, though when sharpened and combined with the remaining images, they should provide a more fluid depiction of Curiosity's entry and descent into Gale Crater.

For now, NASA has arranged these 297 thumbnail frames to create a stop-motion video of Curiosity's arrival on Mars, providing an abbreviated glimpse at the last two and a half minutes of its descent. The clip, embedded below, is of admittedly fuzzy quality, though its dusty finale certainly packs plenty of drama, with the craft's thrust rockets kicking up clouds of Martian soil.

Curiosity's MARDI camera began snapping these images as soon as the craft's heat shield peeled away. Those selected for early downlink to Earth depict the craft at various critical points of its landing. One set, for example, shows the craft gyrating as it parachuted downward, while another depicts its heat shield just moments after falling away.

NASA has also closely analyzed these images, and has discovered details that may have been obscured in the first batch of photos it received. The following photo, for instance, was taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and depicts Curiosity as it parachuted to Mars. It seems largely similar to the image NASA released yesterday, though at the bottom is a small black speck that the MRO team believes to be Curiosity's heat shield, still in free fall after being ejected.

Rover_2

At the moment, NASA's MARDI images are of just 192 x 144 resolution, though as communications improve, the agency hopes to retrieve full-size, 1600 x 1200 photos. Yet even in its relatively crude state, NASA's early imagery has already sparked a palpable sense of excitement among researchers, who believe these photos could have an impact that goes far beyond the realm of Curiosity's mission.

"The image sequence received so far indicates Curiosity had, as expected, a very exciting ride to the surface," said Mike Malin, an imaging scientist at San Diego's Malin Space Systems. "But as dramatic as they are, there is real other-world importance to obtaining them. These images will help the mission scientists interpret the rover's surroundings, the rover drivers in planning for future drives across the surface, as well as assist engineers in their design of forthcoming landing systems for Mars or other worlds."

You can browse through more imagery over at NASA's Curiosity photo gallery.

Back to top ^
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5345_tracker