Orbiter Snaps Shot of Curiosity's Year of Progress on Martian Road Trip - NBC Bay Area

Orbiter Snaps Shot of Curiosity's Year of Progress on Martian Road Trip

The image shows Curiosity's year of progress on Mars' rocky terrain as it near the base of Mount Sharp



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    NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
    NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity appears as a bluish dot near the lower right corner of this enhanced-color view from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The rover's tracks are visible extending from the landing site, "Bradbury Landing," in the left half of the scene. Two bright, relatively blue spots surrounded by darker patches are where the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's landing jets cleared away reddish surface dust at the landing site. North is toward the top. For scale, the two parallel lines of the wheel tracks are about 10 feet (3 meters) apart.

    An image from high above Mars provides an orbiter's-eye view of a shining rover Curiosity and the site where it landed nearly one year ago before embarking on a mission to the base of a Martian mountain.

    The image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter also shows a thin line between the two points -- wheel marks left behind by the rover as it explored the Martian surface. The image, released Wednesday, was captured June 27 as the sun illuminated the rover, making it appear as a bluish dot in the lower right corner of the orbiter's snapshot.

    Surface scars from thrusters used to gently land the rover in Gale Crater are visible on the left side of the image. After a spacecraft transported Curiosity to Mars' doorstep on Aug. 6, a skycrane landing system equipped with rockets was deployed to set the rover down in what became known as the "Bradbury Landing" site.

    This oblique view (right) of the planet's surface reveals the topography the rover will encounter during the two-year mission.

    Wheel marks extend from the landing site, marking a trailblazing route on which Curiosity collected samples from rocks by using its onboard lasers and drill. In March, scientists studying a powdery sample from a rock into which rover Curiosity drilled announced that the analysis revealed conditions once suited for ancient life on Mars.

    The orbiter's high-resolution camera captured Curiosity as it examined an outcrop dubbed "Shaler" -- the final stop for the rover before it begins a monthslong journey to explore to the lower layers of Mount Sharp.

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