Worth the wait…

I have to be honest and admit that recently I’ve been losing some interest in the mission of MSL Curiosity. It seems like it hasn’t been *doing* anything.

I know, I know, it’s only been quiet because the rover was doing some very serious, very heavy science, gathering and then analysing samples of dust from the floor of Gale Crater, just as it was meant to, and the rover has been tajking some rather beautiful images of the bizarre twisted, contorted, transporter beam accident rocks scattered around her…

… but… but… damnit Jim, she’s a rover, not a lander, and standing there, in the same place, for a month, seems such a waste of those gorgeous monster truck wheels, especially when there’s a b****y big layered mountain just behind her to drive to, climb up and explore.

I was starting to think of her as “Idle Curiosity”, and imagining of one of Ray Bradbury’s beautiful martian sand galleons sail up to her, skimming across the crater floor, pulling up beside her, and one of its crew shouting down “Are you stuck? Do you need any help? Can we tow you somewhere..?”

But today a bucketful of images – just raw thumbnails, not full sized high resolution images – came down, and I realised I’d been unfair to her. Because it’s now clear that she’s been taking The Photograph we’ve all wanted to see ever since we read or heard that the MAHLI camera on the end of the robot arm was capable of taking a self portrait of Curiosity…

So, here’s what came back, a folderful of small pictures, like this…

You then have to use software to stitch all those different images together to make one single image. I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out whenI started, but I’ve been desperate to see that self portrait for soooo long I knew I had to give it a go.

I’m glad I did.

Here you go, feast your eyes on this… and say “Hi!” to Curiosity, standing there on the surface of Mars, on the floor of Gale Crater, in the shadow of Mt Sharp…

Isn’t that… beautiful?!?!?! It’s not perfect by any means, it’s what we call a “quick and dirty stitch together” , and imagining the views people with more experience, skill and time than I do, and better equipment and software too, will make when the full size, crisp, high resolution images are beamed back, is making me drool  –

But yeah, I’m pleased with that. And it seems others are too, as the image has already been featured on several high profile websites. 🙂

Tomorrow there’ll be super-sharp, perfectly-blended, jaw-dropping versions of that mosaic which will blow our minds. I can’t wait to see those. And then, on Friday, another press conference with the latest news about Curiosity’s studies of the martian atmosphere. Already the internet is buzzing with rumours and speculation about the story we’re going to hear, and a lot of people are convinced NASA is going to announce MSL has detected methane in the martian atmosphere, which will truly set the astrobiology cat amongst the planetary pigeons. We’ll have to wait and see..!



2 thoughts on “Worth the wait…

  1. ted says:

    Nice work Stu…you passion is contagious. All the best and keep it up.

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