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An Awesome View of Curiosity’s Tummy

Curiosity’s underside as imaged by the MAHLI camera. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS; image editing by Astro0.

One of Curiosity’s amazing color cameras, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) that is mounted on the turret at the end of the MSL robotic arm, is now officially in action, with its dust cover removed over the weekend. The first picture it sent back to Earth was of the soil in its field of view (see below). That’s great, as the camera’s purpose is to acquire close-up images of materials on the Martian surface—rocks, fine particles and even frost. But then engineers commanded the camera to take a look at Curiosity’s underbelly – the rover’s ‘tummy’ so to speak. And the views are awesome, especially when some of the image wizards at UnmannedSpaceflight stitched a few of the images together to put together a mosaic of the entire view of the rover’s underside. This image was put together by Astro0 at UMSF. Click the image to see a larger version on his website.

The first image to come from Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) with the dust cap off. Credit: NASA/MSL-Caltech

MAHLI, built by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) will be used to help characterize the geology of the site investigated by MSL, and it will be used to document the materials being examined by MSL’s geochemical and mineralogical experiments.

You can see the “raw images” at the MSL website, the images that are just being beamed back from the rover, and see more at UnmannedSpaceflight; Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Blog also has some images she has put together from MAHLI’s views of Curiosity’s underside.

Here’s a picture of the camera itself:

The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera head. The knife is 88.9 mm (3.5 inches) long. Image credit: Malin Space Science Systems

MAHLI is the equivalent of a 2 Megapixel camera. Because MAHLI can focus at infinity, in addition to being able to get microscopic views of surface materials MAHLI can also be used for other purposes, including inspection of areas on the rover or imaging the local landscape — as the images here attest.

MAHLI can also acquire multiple images of the same feature at different focus positions; additionally look upcoming for 3-D views of selected targets from this camera, since it is located on the robotic arm, it will be relatively easy to move the camera to take two images of the same object from different positions.

Learn more about MAHLI at the Malin Space Science Systems website.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • SJStar September 10, 2012, 3:57 PM

    Yawn… This is not news. Really. Yet another typical US biassed article touted-out by Universe Today. Have you no shame?

    Tell you what. Why don’t you show us or write a story on the Russian Plutonium-238 that powers this Rover, that come form one of their old reactors?

    I mean… it is not even good ol’ American Plutonium now is it!

    I.e. http://citizenminute.com/mars-rover-curiosity-powered-soviet-era-plutonium/

    • Aqua4U September 10, 2012, 5:58 PM

      I smell fresh bait… Q: Isn’t it better to have that well sealed Russian Plutonium on Mars doing something useful, than it is to have it ‘laying around’ somewhere on Earth?

      • SJStar September 10, 2012, 6:24 PM

        Plutonium from anywhere is not my exact point. All this story is, is mindless cotton-candy for sheep.
        Really what your saying here is that the third rivet on the bottom right-hand panel is equally interesting and thrilling (riveting) as is the bottom of Curiosity? Frankly, show me the fracken science, please!

        • Olaf2 September 10, 2012, 6:56 PM

          You whining posts are even less interesting than this article.

          • SJStar September 11, 2012, 1:54 AM

            Then don’t read them. Baa!

          • spew September 11, 2012, 3:19 AM

            Troll, yahoo is waiting for you.

          • SJStar September 11, 2012, 4:56 AM

            Baa!

    • Dave B September 10, 2012, 6:25 PM

      Yep. Isn’t it great that a post-Space Shuttle American space project got rid of some of Russia’s nuclear waste? Isn’t it great that America was able to do something Russia wouldn’t (or couldn’t) because their newest Tzar is too busy fishing without his shirt, or wrestling his circus bears to try and prove he isn’t a big sissy? I keep wondering what he’s compensating for….

      When Russia can something besides prop up Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, let me know. Being the world’s taxi service to the ISS seems like a distant second place to me.

    • SJStar September 10, 2012, 6:46 PM

      BTW I made a slight mistake here. I also read the earlier UT article “An Inside Look at Curiosity’s Inner Workings.”

      My point above on the Plutonium more more towards that issue.

      (UT ignored this fact in previous Curiosity articles. You can only wonder why?)

      @ Nancy too. Are we ever going to see that article on the IAU 2012 General Assembly in China. [One can only wonder if this wasn’t mention because of it location?]

      • spew September 10, 2012, 7:52 PM

        I thought it was understood that most of the science will come later when all the systems are checked and tested for functionality? If you were keeping tabs, you’d know this by now; this is coming from me who hasn’t been paying much attention to Curiosity as many other had been on this site. Basically, you should do a little more fact checking.

        Coming in here slinging accusations about the publications’ bias towards Americanism really isn’t in the spirit of this whole site. If you want to complain and troll on sites with your vitriol, go to yahoo; there’s plenty of conspiracy theorists out there doubting the existence of a moon landing, and many more who still think that the sun orbits the flat Earth. You’d definitely find many complaining of a spiraling budget deficit; those people are so obtuse that they go as far as to pin blame on a wasteful expenditures on a telescope array project in South America which has no funding coming from the US.

        Furthermore, no one site will hold all the information you’re seeking. You might want to check different fan sites and blogs. Again, there was no need for your rubbish. No one wants to hear it; this isn’t the forum for your kind of mudslinging and poor etiquette. You belong on yahoo.

        • SJStar September 11, 2012, 5:11 AM

          You obviously belong in kindergarden.

          Actually. Do you know what a troll is?
          It is not someone who you just disagree with, you know!

          • spew September 11, 2012, 8:20 PM

            “No one wants to hear it; this isn’t the forum for your kind of mudslinging and poor etiquette.” Read that statement or learn to read so you could read that statement and understand it.

            You’re a troll. I could disagree with you all I want; people come here and have discussions about different articles and have disagreements and that doesn’t make them a troll. You’re just flaming people here with your yahoo mentality; you’re contributing nothing worthwhile. Apparently you have nothing better to do and somehow manage to wander here for your trolling spots.

            If you were more serious about your desire for some information on plutonium, you would had found a way to request it respectfully. Furthermore, you could had sent a request to the admin of this site if you really wanted some “variety” in what is being offered here. Obviously, you haven’t shown any interest in having any form of discussion; you clearly arrived misinformed and started lambasting all.

            Again ” most of the science will come later when all the systems are checked and tested for functionality”. Read and understand that. If you’re serious about not being ostracized in this community, learn some manners. We’re not here to entertain you because you simply have nothing better to do. There are people here who are enthusiasts and are simply glad to learn more about quasars and blazars; those aren’t Russian made, fyi.

            Best wishes

  • Aqua4U September 10, 2012, 5:39 PM

    All images are appreciated! You know, there are17 camera’s on Curiosity! Cickity CLICK! And the MAHLI ‘microscope’ sure looks cool! Neat and petite, light and right! HO!

    Here’s NASA’s *.cams
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/malin-4.html

  • Ergo September 10, 2012, 9:16 PM

    “The knife is 88.9 mm (3.5 inches) long.”

    Why do you Americans keep doing this? The knife isn’t exactly 3.5” and neither is it 88.9 mm long which is just a direct conversion between the two. It’s pointless to write the metric size down to 1/10th of a millimeter when you don’t know the lenght of the object, and the initial guess made in inches is 25 times less precise. It just makes the metric measurement unwieldy and difficult to relate.

    The closest unit to an inch is the centimeter, which is used more commonly in metric countries. On a similiar level of precision, because 1/10th of an inch is about 1/4 cm, the measurement would be “9.0 cm” or simply “9 cm” which is a nice round number and easy to understand because an adult’s palm is roughly 10 cm wide.

    You don’t have to make metric difficult for yourselves. You’re not going to go into a supermarket to buy 453.7 grams of beef to get a pound equivalent. You’ll ask for 450 grams, or simply round up to half a kilo since cooking isn’t exact science anyhow.

  • David N September 11, 2012, 6:33 AM

    First let me say im a bit of a wide eyed amateur when it comes to science astronomy and space exploration. To all those who commented here, for whom the article and the pic didnt live up to your expectations, and wasnt high grade enough for you: F___ OFF – I Enjoyed it!! go to sites that suit your superior knowledge, they are around. I believe Universe today is designed for people like me who ARENT professional scientists but who have an interest. So to universe today: keep it coming – there are droves of scientifically frustrated accountants and lawyers and so on out there that this stuff appeals to and it speaks on our level.

  • Steve Rollins September 11, 2012, 2:37 PM

    I’m curious what the long white streaks ending in white dots is. I was thinking they might be reflected wind-driven dust particles imaged with a long exposure.

    • Muffie 1801 September 14, 2012, 8:46 PM

      They are imaging artefacts caused by the stitching process. Think of the image as a photo-collage. The white lines are the edges of each photo.

  • bugzzz September 11, 2012, 4:38 PM

    love it

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