Live From the Red Planet, The Most Breathtaking Photographs Ever Taken: A Mars Curiosity Rover Pictorial
By Ben Samuels
A hundred years ago, the incredible beauty of the night sky was palpable. It was always there, shining over your shoulder, reminding you of your miniscule, yet important place in our vast, infinite universe. Light pollution hadn’t yet blotted out the stars and we were still looking up toward the unanswerable rather than down into the palm of our hands for information.
Our fascination with the unknown continued well into JFK’s historic speech at Rice University, when he declared, “we choose to go to the moon”, ushering in our love affair with space and, seven years later, a lunar landing.
In the decades since, American public interest in space exploration has sadly waned. Carl Sagan put it best in his quintessential novel, Pale Blue Dot. “Once upon a time, we soared into the Solar System. For a few years. Then we hurried back. Why? What happened? What was ‘Apollo’ really about?”
On August 6th, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) gave us their answer. The Mars Curiosity rover landed on the red planet after a 21-month journey, and our pale blue dot recaptured its forgotten childlike sense of awe with its celestial neighbors.
The instantly viral Seven Minutes of Terror video chronicling the Curiosity Rover’s extraordinary journey to Mars premiered on KoldCast’s brand new NASA TV channel, which brings viewers NASA JPL’s latest exploits beyond our stratosphere.
Click to play Seven Minutes of Terror – Don’t miss this video!
The Martians – 7 Minutes of Terror
Now, this vehicle, about the size of a MINI Cooper, is roaming around Mars sending us breathtaking photographs of a world formerly reserved for the likes of Ray Bradbury’s imagination. The high-resolution images below (courtesy of NASA) were taken some 34.8 million miles from where you are sitting. You’re looking at the results of mankind’s most extraordinary scientific and engineering feats in history.
Once you’re reacquainted with the universe, subscribe to NASA TV for continuous coverage of all things cool coming out of today’s space program, and let Curiosity kill that sleepy, apathetic cat once and for all.
Curiosity leaves its mark. Mars’ rocky surface and Curiosity’s track marks from its first test drive can be seen behind it.
Curiosity’s first tracks can be seen in this fun 360-degree panorama that was taken early on in the expedition.
Curiosity shows its introspective side with a self-portrait taken by its Navigation camera.
Part of the rover’s power supply is visible on the left of this image. To the right of the power supply is the low-gain antenna and side of the high-gain antenna, which lets Curiosity communicate with Earth.
This image was taken by the 100mm Mastcam, which has a much better resolution than the 34mm Mastcam. The crystal clear resolution brings the Mars surface to life in a way we haven’t yet seen.
Mount Sharp’s colorful layers reveal a rich geological history in this high quality image taken, again, by the 100mm Mastcam. Mount Sharp is Curiosity’s eventual destination.
You can’t help but think of Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit films in the 1980s when looking at this self-portrait of Curiosity. The rover seems more alive than ever before. What we’re really seeing is an image of the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), which lets NASA know that is hasn’t been caked in dust. It’s the latest photo sent back from the Rover.
This composite image shows the three left wheels of Curiosity. It combines two images that were taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager just a few days ago. Mount Sharp can be seen in the distance.
The gravelly area of the landing site is in the foreground, an impact crater in the middle, and the layered rocks of Mount Sharp in the distance. It’s hard not to wonder if other beings once walked this surface billion of years ago.
For more coverage of Curiosity’s adventure, subscribe to KoldCast’s NASA TV
Ariel Nishli contributed to this story.
Ben Samuels has worked in film development and production on both the studio and independent side. He’s currently a freelance writer, entrepreneur, actor, and self-described space nerd. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensamuels.