New Mars Image Shows Curiosity's Sky Crane Crash On Camera

MSL descent stage crash

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New images beamed down from the NASA Curiosity rover’s HazCams show the dust plume from the rover’s descent stage.

For those who are fuzzy on what all these different parts are: The descent stage is the part of the landing contraption that slowly placed the rover onto the surface of Mars using thrusters that slowed the falling rover. 

After lowering the rover down, the descent stage flew off to crash land elsewhere.

See image below.

From the NASA Curiosity website:

The distant blob seen in the view on left, taken by a Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA’s Curiosity rover, may be a cloud created during the crash of the rover’s descent stage. Pictures taken about 45 minutes later (right) do not show the cloud, providing further evidence it was from the crash.

The bright spot at upper centre, which is larger in the view at right, is due to image saturation from looking at the sun.

These images are from the rover’s rear Hazard-avoidance cameras. They are one-quarter of full resolution.

Here’s what the descent stage aka “sky crane” looks like to refresh your memory:

MSL descent stage

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

And here’s the recently released “crime scene” image, which shows where the four main pieces of hardware that arrived on Mars with NASA’s Curiosity rover ended up: the heat shield was the first piece to hit the ground, followed by the back shell attached to the parachute, then the rover itself touched down, and finally, after cables were cut, the sky crane flew away to the northwest and crashed. Relatively dark areas in all four spots are from disturbances of the bright dust on Mars, revealing the darker material below the surface dust.

crime scene photo

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

More From Curiosity:

  • TOUCHDOWN CONFIRMED! NASA’s Curiosity Rover Successfully Lands On Mars And Transmits First Pictures
  • The Very First Pictures Of Curiosity On Mars
  • The New Mars Rover Would Be Crippled Without These Instruments¬†
  • VIDEO: Curiosity Landing On Mars¬†

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