Curiosity rover to use high navigation cameras

Updated: 2012-08-09 06:58


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LOS ANGELES - NASA's Curiosity rover has lifted its mast to use its high navigation cameras to capture images, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that operates the Mars most advanced rover announced Wednesday.

JPL announced at a press briefing that Curiosity has returned black and white images that captured part of its own body, its shadow on the ground and views off to the horizon.

Curiosity has two pairs of black and white, grey-scale, navigation cameras which can acquire stereo imagery to help the rover pick a path across the surface, JPL said.

These Navcams sit just to the side of two science cameras - one wide-angle, one telephoto. It is these Mastcams that will provide the really exquisite, true color views of the Martian landscape.

JPL plans eventually to take the rover to the base of a mountain called Mount Sharp, which is named after geologist Robert P. Sharp (1911-2004) to pay tribute to the founder of planetary science. The rover is expected to find rocks  there that were laid down billions of years ago in the presence of liquid water.

At a height of 3.4 miles (2.108 kilometers), the highest peak of Mount Sharp is taller than Mt. Whitney in California. On its way, the rover will encounter dark drunes, degraded impact craters and other geologic features on the Martian surface of the planet, according to JPL.

Curiosity will probe these sediments for evidence that past environments on Mars could once have favored microbial life.

Since the massive 2.5 billion-dollar rover touched down on the surface of Mars on August 5, it has sent back images during its descent to the surface of Mars and of its new home base inside Gale Crater.

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