Curiosity Rover Takes Pictures of Earth From Mars
First Time Ever
With a caption reading “Look back in wonder,” NASA JPL’s (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Curiosity rover tweeted the first photograph ever taken of Earth from Mars. Though our home world appears as naught but a small speck in the photo, a helpful arrow and label (courtesy of the NASA team) help identify it in the dusky sky.
After an eight and a half month journey through space, Curiosity landed on Mars on November 26, 2011. The $2.6 billion, one-ton, SUV-sized craft has been gathering data of all kinds on the Red Planet, using 17 cameras and a veritable treasure trove of robotic scientific instruments.
Shortly after landing and bringing all its systems online—with a few helpful assists from NASA staff on Earth—Curiosity began snapping photos and beaming them back home. The twitten photo, however, is the first of these images to actually show Earth. Another, even smaller dot in the photograph is our moon. (It takes an extremely keen eye to spot it, as it is very, very small and faint.
NASA officials say the photo was taken about 80 minutes after the Martian sunset, and was taken with Curiosity’s “left-eye” camera. After processing to “remove [the] effects of cosmic rays,” the photo was posted to the popular social media service via Curiosity’s “personal” account.
In addition to snapping countless photographs, Curiosity has been exploring the surface of Mars in great detail. For example, information and soil samples taken in an area of the planet known as Yellowknife Bay, upon analysis, show that the region was once habitable. No actual signs of life have yet been found, however.
You can follow the Curiosity Rover’s adventures on Mars on Twitter @MarsCuriosity.