The day after…

It’s now 24 hours since Curiosity landed on Mars – what a day that was!!! Not enough that everything worked perfectly; not enough that we had the first pictures back within minutes; not enough that we had our first glimpse of Mt Sharp rising up into the sky in front of the rovr. Oh no. Last night the magicians on the HiRISE imaging team with the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter stunned and delighted spaceflight enthusiasts and journalists alike by unveiling a picture that has already become an iconic image of the space age. Take a look…

Why is it so incredible? Because, if you hadn’t already guessed, or heard, the white box over there highlights something… bewilderingly brilliant. Let’s zoom in on it…

Yes, they managed to capture Curiosity descending to the surface of Mars beneath her parachute!!! That’s incredible!! When that image was taken, MRO was over 300km above Curiosity.

Make no mistake, the calculations and brilliance needed to get that photo are off the scale. The MRO team did a fantastic job. If there was a gold medal for simply being brilliant, they’d be wearing them around their necks this morning. But then, so would MSL’s entry, descent and landing team… and the team who “woke her up” after she landed… and the team who made sure the first images were released so quickly… and the team at the Canberra DSN dish who made sure the signals were received and collected so well…

Great job, everyone. Just a fantastic, fantastic day.

But it gets better.

The camera mounted on the underside of Curiosity manged to snap the heat shield falling away from the descending rover, too…!

Stunning, just stunning. You could be forgiven for thinking that that’s a frame from a science fiction film, showing a UFO about to crash into the Roswell desert (and no doubt that’s what it will be claimed to be in years to come by UFO nuts… oh well…!) but WE made that, and sent it to Mars. Isn’t it beautiful?

All the images above were released at a press conference at JPL last night, during which we were updated about Curiosity’s condition, location, and successes so far. Basically she’s fine, in great health, and starting to go through her “To Do” list. A few more images have been sent back, of better resolution than those first ones, confirming that, yes, that IS Mt Sharp rising up into the sky over there. Here’s our best view so far of Mt Sharp…

It makes a lot more sense if you straighten the horizon using some image processing techniques, then you get a rather more realistic view – and I think that if Curiosity could she’d send back something like this to all her millions of fans on Earth…

There’ll be lots more news from Curiosity’s team today, and in the next few days, and more images too, including the first good colour views of the horizon, the ground and, of course, the towering presence of Mt Sharp, which we’re all going to get to know really, really well in the months and years ahead…

… but you’ll have to get those from elsewhere, as this blog is not going to be updated again until the weekend. But when we come back we’ll catch up with the the Curiosity news. 🙂


One thought on “The day after…

  1. Bertrand Ouellet says:

    Hey, Stu! What would we do without you ? Great job. I have been following Oppy’s long trek with you all along and look forward to what is to come. Thanks and Best wishes!

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