NASA Curiosity: Latest Updates from Mars

NASA Curiosity: Latest Updates from Mars
NASA's Curiosity Rover is undergoing a very remote software upgrade on Mars, but it's still sending postcards.
By Christina DesMarais
News Aug 13th 2012

In the last week, little has captivated people more than Mars. Since last Sunday, images and news have been pouring out of NASA about Curiosity, the rover that will spend the next two years exploring the red planet, sampling geology and looking for evidence of microbial life.

Here are the latest updates involving the remarkable mission.

Geology That Looks Like Death Valley
Curiosity has transmitted back to Earth its first high-resolution color mosaic that shows the environment around its landing site on Mars. It shows a Death Valley-like landscape that includes a northern section on the crater wall where valleys believed to have resulted from water erosion protrude into Gale Crater. 

A southern perspective shows the areas the rover will explore, “including the rock-strewn, gravelly surface nearby, the dark dune field and the layered buttes and mesas of the sedimentary rock of Mount Sharp,” reports NASA in an announcement

Marscape (Source: NASA)

This 79-image mosaic was compiled from images taken within about an hour on August 8 with Curiosity’s 34-millimeter Mastcam, but doesn’t include all of the 130 1200-by-1200-pixel full-color photos it captured—some of which have yet to be returned to earth, resulting in the black patches.