Friday image feast

Curiosity is really stepping up a scientific gear now, and every day new images are coming back showing what a remarkable machine she is – part geologist, part biologist, and, it turns out, part astronomer too!

Let’s look at the geologist part first. In the last post we saw how MSL has driven close to a roughly pyramid-shaped rock christened “Jake Matijevic” in honour of a much-loved and greatly respected NASA scientist who recently passed away. We now have clearer, more detailed pictures of this fascinating looking rock. Here’s a colour image I’ve sharpened up a little…

You’ll see straight away how the face of the rock on the right is a lot cleaner and rougher than the other face, which appears to have a smooth texture and a bluish tinge, as if it’s been sanded down. Why? What’s going on? Well, that’s what the Curiosity team is going to find out over the next few days when they turn all the rover’s science firepower on this rock. By the time they’ve finished, “Jake Matijevic” will be the most studied rock on Mars ever, I reckon.

Here’s a more detailed view of the top of the rock…

Can’t wait to see the rest of it!

Meanwhile, Curiosity has been doing a bit of stargazing on Mars – well, moon-gazing anyway…

Take a look at this image – you’ll need to click on it to enlarge it…

Doesn’t look much, I know. But the large white circle is the Sun, and the black dot is Mars’ smaller moon, Deimos! Cleaned-up you can see this…

Again, that doesn’t look much, I know, but what you’re seeing is a moon of Mars moving across the face of the Sun – a transit, just like we sometimes see the planets Mercury or Venus transiting the Sun from here on Earth. Here’s what you’re seeing…

So Curiosity is now also an off-Earth astronomical observatory. Very cool!

And just as a bonus, here’s a short animation of Deimos moving across the face of the Sun. Bit hard to see because of the cross-hatch pattern, and you might have to click on the image to see the actual movement (I would anyway, to enlarge it), but ignore the quality and just Think About What You’re Seeing…!šŸ˜‰

This isn’t the first time this has been done, tho, The two Mars Exploration Rovers observed and photographed transits of both martian moons. But Curiosity has better cameras, so we’ll have better, crisper views in the months and years to come.

One thought on “Friday image feast

  1. Monica,Houston,Texas says:

    Did you notice the rocks/pebbles directly to the North of Jake – one has 5 sides and the 2nd almost 4 straight corners – interesting. Any ideas from the geologists out there?

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