Being a proud space geek, I of course sat up in bed with my iPad late Sunday night, watching the live USTREAM of the Curiosity Rover’s landing on Mars. I’ve been to NASA’s Jet Prepulsion Labratory (JPL) in Pasadena before, and on this night I was as thrilled by the successful touchdown as I’d have been if I was in the JPL control room at that moment. I held my breath and then erupted in cheers along with the geniuses in blue shirts. And then I cheered some more at the “We’ve got a thumbnail!” announcement. As a photo junkie, I never thought I’d be so excited in 2012 to see photos captured by a 1-megapixel camera. But on Sunday night I couldn’t take my eyes off that first image shot by the rover’s Hazard-Avoidance camera (in which you can see Curiosity’s wheel).
Curiosity has since sent higher resolution versions of those initial photos, as well as its first color photo of the Red Planet. You can see those here. Still, I will never forget the thrill of that first thumbnail image.
Were you among the hoards of eager space-enthusiasts (this writer included) who watched the historic Transit of Venus yesterday evening? My favorite livestream to watch was the view from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, but the above compilation shot, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), is the still image that I will forever return to for a dose of inspiration. See the rest of NASA’s Venus Transit images here, including one captured by Astronaut Don Pettit from aboard the International Space Station.
(images: NASA/SDO, AIA)
Don’t miss this stunning time lapse video of SDO shots either:
This tribute certainly gets the long distance award. A view of a memorial to victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center towers was taken on Mars, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
The memorial, made from aluminum recovered from the site of the twin towers in weeks following the attacks, serves as a cable guard on a tool on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and bears an image of the American flag.
The memorial is on the rover’s rock abrasion tool, which was being made in September 2001 by workers at Honeybee Robotics in lower Manhattan, less than a mile from the World Trade Center.
Opportunity’s panoramic camera and navigation camera photographed the tool on Sept. 11, 2011, during the 2,713th Martian day of the rover’s work on Mars. Opportunity completed its three-month prime mission on Mars in April 2004 and has worked for more than seven years since then in bonus extended missions.