Testing! Testing!

After yesterdays successful landing in Gale crater, NASA scientists have started preparing the Curiosity rover for its mission to study the past and present climate on Mars. In the last 24 hours they have been busy testing the rover’s cameras, communication systems and motor controllers, and have reported that Curiosity is in good health after it’s long flight! Tasks still to be completed during Sol 1 (a Sol is a Martian day, which is 3% longer than a day on Earth) include raising the high-gain antenna and switching on the rover’s environmental and radiation monitors. In the meantime here are some of the spectacular images that have already been sent back to Earth…

Curiosity’s descent to the Martian surface was captured in this amazing image from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting Mars since 2006. The image was taken 1 minute before Curiosity landed and shows the parachute used to slow it down before touchdown (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona).

This image was collected by the Mars Descent Imager, a camera on the bottom of Curiosity used to record it’s fall to Mars. The image was taken just over 2 minutes before landing and shows the heat shield 3 seconds after it’s release from the main spacecraft (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS).

View of Mount Sharp, Curiosity’s main science target in Gale crater. In the foreground you can see the shadow cast by the Curiosity rover (NASA/JPL-Caltech).

The outer edge of Gale crater can be seen in this image taken by the rear hazard camera on the Curiosity rover (NASA/JPL-Caltech).

Mars in colour! This is the view north of Curiosity taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). You can just about make out the edge of Gale crater but the image is hazy due to dust being blown onto the camera during landing (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS).

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