NASA’s Curiosity Rover is already doing significant scientific research on the surface of Mars even though it’s only been there a few weeks. In fact, NASA says that Curiosity is already returning more data from the surface of Mars than all other previous NASA rovers combined. NASA recently offered up some new images from Curiosity on the surface of Mars, including the telephoto image you see below.
The image shows eroded knobs and gulches on the side of a mountain on the surface of Mars with geological layering exposed. The photograph was taken using the 100 mm telephoto lens and others were taken using 34 mm wide-angle lens that are both on the Mast Camera known as Mastcam. The image is one of the lower slopes of Mount Sharp.
Early yesterday NASA placed Curiosity directly over a patch on the surface of Mars where one of the spacecraft landing engines blew away several inches of gravelly soil. After the soil was blown away, the underlying rock was exposed and will be tested. NASA plans to use one of Curiosity’s instruments, capable of shooting neutrons at the rock, to check for water molecules bound inside minerals in the exposed rock.
NASA also recently played the first recorded human voice to travel from the Earth to another planet and back. Spoken words from NASA administrator Charles Bolden were beamed from the earth to Curiosity on Mars and back to NASA’s Deep Space Network on earth. The spoken message was congratulatory to NASA employees, commercial, and government partners on the successful landing of Curiosity. You can hear the voice playback here.