Friday, January 25, 2013

Mars: First Nighttime Images From Curiosity Rover

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has for the first time used the camera on its arm to take photos at night, illuminated by white lights and ultraviolet lights on the instrument.

Scientists used the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument for a close-up nighttime look at a rock target called "Sayunei," in an area where Curiosity's front-left wheel had scuffed the rock to provide fresh, dust-free materials to examine. The site is near where the rover team plans to begin using Curiosity to drill into a rock in coming weeks. The images of the rock Sayunei and of MAHLI's calibration target were taken on Jan. 22 (PST) and received on Earth Jan. 23. 

This image of a Martian rock illuminated by white-light LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity.
MAHLI's First Night Imaging of Martian Rock, White Lighting
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The MAHLI, an adjustable-focus color camera, includes its own LED (light-emitting diode) illumination sources. Images of Sayunei taken with white-LED illumination and with illumination by ultraviolet LEDs are available online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16711 andhttp://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16712

This image of a Martian rock illuminated by ultraviolet LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. 
MAHLI's First Night Imaging of Martian Rock Under Ultraviolet Lighting
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

"The purpose of acquiring observations under ultraviolet illumination was to look for fluorescent minerals," said MAHLI Principal Investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. "These data just arrived this morning. The science team is still assessing the observations. If something looked green, yellow, orange or red under the ultraviolet illumination, that'd be a more clear-cut indicator of fluorescence." 

This image of a calibration target illuminated by white-light LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. 
First Night Image of MAHLI Calibration Target in White Lighting
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity to investigate whether the study area within Gale Crater has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. 

This image of a calibration target illuminated by ultraviolet LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. 
Illumination in this image comes from MAHLI's two ultraviolet LEDs, which emit light in a waveband centered at a wavelength of 365 nanometers in this image of a calibration target on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the mission, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl ,http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

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