(Sen) - NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has been checking its systems and taking images during its first few days on the Red Planet.
The rover's 3.6 foot tall (1.1 metre) camera mast was deployed and its Mast Camera (Mastcam) used to take the images that created the main picture above of Curiosity's landing site, Gale Crater. The full panorama is made up of 130 images taken late in the Martian afternoon. The image is a low resolution version, each image measuring 144 x 144 pixels. Higher resolution frames, measuring 1200 x 1200 pixels each, will be transmitted back to Earth later.
"As engaging as this color panorama is, it is important to note this is only one-eighth the potential resolution of images from this camera" explained Mike Malin, principal investigator of the Mastcam instrument.
Click here to see the full panorama on the NASA web site.
Grey dust can be seen surrounding the rover which are the effects of the descent stage's rocket engines blasting the ground. In the distance is the bottom of Mount Sharp, the mountain that lies in the middle of Gale Crater which is the main destination for Curiosity.
Curiosity also used its Navigation Camera (Navcam) to take its first self-portrait. The picture is a mosaic of low resolution images apart from two of the tiles that are full resolution. The copies of the full resolution images will be sent back to Earth later.
Curiosity's self-portrait. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surface radiation data has been acquired from the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument, though the data is still be downloaded to the mission team at JPL. NASA reported that Curiosity's temperatures are a bit warmer than expected, believing the cause to be the landing site being warmer than predicted.
Curiosity has been on the surface for nearly four sols - Martian days. The rover is scheduled to operate for a full Martian year (687 Earth days) looking for signs of whether microbial life ever existed or could still exist. The rover has ten scientific tools onboard and is the largest rover ever to land on Mars.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for NASA.