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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover takes photos of Mars at night for the first time

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has for the first time used the camera on its arm to take photos at night, illuminated by white lights and ultraviolet lights on the instrument.

Scientists used the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument for a close-up nighttime look at a rock target called “Sayunei,” in an area where Curiosity’s front-left wheel had scuffed the rock to provide fresh, dust-free materials to examine.

This image of a Martian rock illuminated by white-light LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This image of a Martian rock illuminated by white-light LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The site is near where the rover team plans to begin using Curiosity to drill into a rock in coming weeks. The images of the rock Sayunei and of MAHLI’s calibration target were taken on January 22nd (PST) and received on Earth January 23rd.

The MAHLI, an adjustable-focus color camera, includes its own LED (light-emitting diode) illumination sources. Images of Sayunei taken with white-LED illumination and with illumination by ultraviolet LEDs are available online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16711 and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16712 .

“The purpose of acquiring observations under ultraviolet illumination was to look for fluorescent minerals,” said MAHLI Principal Investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, CA. “These data just arrived this morning. The science team is still assessing the observations. If something looked green, yellow, orange or red under the ultraviolet illumination, that’d be a more clear-cut indicator of fluorescence.”

This image of a Martian rock illuminated by ultraviolet LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This image of a Martian rock illuminated by ultraviolet LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity to investigate whether the study area within Gale Crater has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the mission, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .


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