HiRISE Spots Curiosity Rover and Tracks from Orbit

Amazing, the things a birds-eye view allows you to see. Here’s a color image from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the tracks of the Curiosity rover. In this most recent HiRISE image of the MSL rover, the tracks are visible from Yellowknife Bay to its location on 11 December 2013, several kilometers to the southwest. Even though some of these tracks are more than a year old, they are still visible.

As HiRISE team member Christian Schaller said via Twitter, “Take only pictures; leave only footprints.” In this case, HiRISE took the pictures while MSL left the footprints!

HiRISE principal investigator Alfred McEwen explained the image: “Curiosity is progressing from the bright dust-covered area to a region with a darker surface, where saltating sand keeps the surface relatively free of dust. The scenery seen by the rover will be getting more interesting as it progresses toward Mount Sharp.”

See a black and white image below, where you can actually see Curiosity, too:

Can you spot the Curiosity rover from orbit? Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

See more details on these images, as well as get access to higher resolution versions at the HiRISE website. You can see a collection of images of Curiosity taken by HiRISE here.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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