Curiosity’s “Bootprint” on Mars

by Nancy Atkinson on October 4, 2012

Looking very similar to the iconic first footprint on the Moon from the Apollo 11 landing, this new raw image from the Curiosity rover on Mars shows one of the first “scuff” marks from the rover’s wheels on a small sandy ridge. This image was taken today by Curiosity’s right Navcam on Sol 57 (2012-10-03 19:08:27 UTC). Rover driver Matt Heverly described a scuff as spinning one wheel to move the soil below it out of the way.

Besides being on different worlds, the two prints likely have a very different future. NASA says the first footprints on the Moon will be there for a million years, since there is no wind to blow them away. Research on the tracks left by Spirit and Opportunity revealed the time scale for track erasure by wind is typically only one Martian year or two Earth years.

Here’s one of Buzz Aldrin’s bootprint, to compare:

The GRIN website (Great Images in NASA) says this is an image of Buzz Aldrin’s bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Credit: NASA

Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger compared earlier images of some of the first tracks left on Mars by Curiosity to images of the footprints left by Aldrin and Armstrong on the Moon. “I think instead of a human, it’s a robot pretty much doing the same thing,” he said.

Lead Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

About 

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

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