Rover captures images of Martian rock

NASA's rover Curiosity has used the camera on its arm to take photos of a rock on the surface of Mars at night.

Rover captures images of Martian rock
Rover captures images of Martian rock

NASA's rover Curiosity has used the camera on its arm to take photos of a rock on the surface of Mars at night.

Scientists used the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument for a close-up night-time look at a rock target called "Sayunei," in an area where Curiosity's front-left wheel had scuffed the rock. The site is near where the rover team plans to begin using Curiosity to drill into a rock in coming weeks.

The image above, which shows the Martian rock illuminated by white-light LEDs, is part of the first set of night-time images taken by the MAHLI camera.

The MAHLI, an adjustable-focus color camera can capture images of samples that are illuminated by both white and ultraviolet LED sources. Acquiring images under ultraviolet illumination enables the camera to capture images of any fluorescent minerals that are present.

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

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1. Curiosity rover's cameras capture color images of Mars

When NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity landed on Mars in August, four cameras developed by Malin Space Science Systems (www.msss.com) were ready to capture high-definition color images of its surface.

2. Plate tectonics found on Mars

For years, scientists had thought that plate tectonics existed nowhere in our solar system but on Earth. Now, a scientist from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA) has discovered that the geological phenomenon -- which involves the movement of huge crustal plates beneath a planet's surface -- also exists on Mars.

3. Image calibration chart flies to Mars

Researchers have created a unique calibration target to help calibrate images captured by the Mars Hand Lens adjustable-focus, color Imager (MAHLI) at the end of the robotic arm on NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity.

-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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