Curiosity Shows Off Its Credentials

Article written: 22 Sep , 2012
Updated: 26 Apr , 2016
by

Plaque on the exterior of Mars Science Laboratory, aka “Curiosity” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Curiosity drops a few rather big names in recent images taken with its MAHLI (Mars Hand Lens Imager) camera: here we see a plaque affixed to its surface bearing the names and signatures of U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Office of Science and Technology Director John Holdren, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other key figures responsible for making the Mars Exploration Program possible.

You never know… even on another planet it can’t hurt to have friends in high places!

The image was captured by MAHLI on September 19, the 44th sol of the MSL mission. (See the original raw downlink here.)

The rectangular plaque is made of anodized aluminum, measuring 3.94 inches (100 mm) high by 3.23 inches (82 mm) wide. It’s attached to the front left side of Curiosity’s deck with four bolts. (Explore Curiosity in 3D here.)

Dust, pebbles and variously-sized bits of Mars can be seen scattered around the plaque and deck, leftover detritus from the rover’s landing.

The complete list of signatures is:

Barack Obama, President, United States of America

Joe Biden, Vice President

John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Edward J. Weiler, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate (2008–2011)

James Green, Director, Planetary Sciences Division

Doug McCuistion, Director, Mars Exploration Program

Michael Meyer, Program Scientist, Mars Exploration Program

David Lavery, Program Executive, Mars Science Laboratory

In another image taken on the same sol, Curiosity shows some national pride with a circular medallion decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag. The 68-mm-wide circular aluminum plate is affixed to one of the rover’s rocker arms. It’s just one of its four “mobility logos” — the others having the NASA logo, the JPL logo and the Curiosity mission logo.

Curiosity’s “stars and stripes” American flag mobility logo (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The main purpose of Curiosity’s MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover’s Gale Crater field site. Developed for NASA by Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, CA, the camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the rover itself from different angles.

Get more technical information about the MAHLI camera here.

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25 Responses

  1. The technology used is pretty amazing considering these images are taken on the Mars surface then sent back to Earth. Pretty amazing clarity!

  2. tenstripe says

    Seeing those signatures reminds me of a story I heard of schools not teaching how to write in such script with all the keyboard digital stuff taking over. How in the future will people be able to write their own names. One more reason to be implanted with digital chips.

  3. Member
    Gozlemci says

    Hope to see the image of the “chip” carrying names of 4.5 Millions + …

  4. I would be ashamed to have the signature of a War Criminal like Barack Obama attached to my equipment.

    • SJStar says

      What an absolute despicable thing to say.
      … I hope they come and get you in the middle of the night.

      • Jantho says

        Apparently SJStar is just another one of those clueless, gullible sheep who believes exactly what he’s told, exactly the way it’s told to him. His only and greatest fear is of anyone who can think for themselves or anyone who has the audacity and nerve to get up and research this country’s recent history of murder, lies, deceit, fraud, corruption and complicity. Lmao, I’d even bet the poor thoughtless POS even voted for “dubya”… the most treasonous, traitorous, terrorist in the entire history of the United States of America. But then, you know, I’d guess that even subconsciously he’s well aware of what this country is going through. He hoped that “they” would come and get them in the middle of the night. Since that’s what “they” are doing, he knows… he knows. Hell, “they” don’t even need to wait for nighttime. “They” are the Law. “They” are the ones supposedly protecting American’s Rights to Free Speech and Freedom of the Press. LMFNAO, yeah and I’m the Easter Bunny. The Police are nothing but criminals in uniform. Murdering, arresting, beating, torturing and incarcerating American citizens on any pretext and with total impunity. The strong arm of Corporate and Legislative America. “Protecting” the rich and powerful from being called to task for crimes against humanity and the environment.
        Get your pitiful, brainwashed head out of the dirt and look at what’s going on around you fool. You’re exactly the reason for what’s happening. You’re the one who averts his eyes to the crimes being committed by Big Business and Government. You’re the one who turns a deaf ear to the complaints and cries of those being rounded up and jailed for fighting for the Rights you’re so easily giving away in the name of “security”. When they’re done rounding up all those who will fight, guess who “they” are going to come for next? YOU!

      • Ian McLeod says

        shush! We don’t like hearing the truth, we’d rather ignore the bad things in the world going on caused by America. Just like the Germans that lived close to Concentration Camps during 30s & 40s and it rained down human ash all day but they choose to ignore it like nothing is happening all is well..what are you talking about!!

      • wtf is this have to do with Universe Today ? wtf are you searching for here ?

      • BMan says

        It just proves that we all live in our personal bubble and the Internet allows us to ooze.

      • SJStar says

        Hey nitwit. Barack Obama is not war criminal!!
        Funny. Everything in your reply says nothing about him being a war criminal!
        If anything, George W, was likely more of a war criminal. He’s the one who went to war on Iraq, and put America into crippling debt that has dropped the economy into a spin.

        Oh Dear. Fracken’ hell… now I’m defending Americans!!!!

      • Ian McLeod says

        One thing to remember at the end of the day the president leads the Military, gives the orders that kill women, men and children. No different then any other leader, elected or dictator. The end result is the same.

    • Folks, Universe Today is a place to share and discuss the sciences and the Universe around us. Partisan political arguments really don’t belong here and there are plenty of other forums available to us on the internet where such discussions are far more appropriate. The signatories on the plaque represent the leadership of the United States and the U.S. Space Program and, like it or not, are no different from President Nixon signing his name to the Apollo 11 plaque affixed to the landing strut of the Eagle. This plaque, however, serves as a focus test for the MSL’s MAHLI camera.

      • Murdering American citizens overseas via drone is a war crime.
        Murdering Afghan women & children via drone is a war crime.
        Supporting the Iraq war for oil, resulting in the deaths of nearly one million Iraqi people is a war crime.

        War Criminal IS as War Criminal DOES.

        I am a disabled US military veteran. I fought for YOUR and MY right to speak of things publicly AS I FIND THEM.

      • danangel says

        Thank You for your service, and thank you for pointing the views of a majority of fellow Americans, Support the Constitution and Article 2.

      • spew says

        I’ll reiterate: ”
        Folks, Universe Today is a place to share and discuss the sciences and the Universe around us. Partisan political arguments really don’t belong here and there are plenty of other forums available to us on the internet where such discussions are far more appropriate. The signatories on the plaque represent the leadership of the United States and the U.S. Space Program and, like it or not, are no different from President Nixon signing his name to the Apollo 11 plaque affixed to the landing strut of the Eagle. This plaque, however, serves as a focus test for the MSL’s MAHLI camera.”

        Don’t you know how to read? No one wants to read your crap on this forum, or anywhere on Universetoday. This isn’t a forum on politics. If you have some problem that no one wants to hear about, go speak to a shrink, or go on yahoo; there are plenty of nutcases there who are more than willing to give you thumbs up, without you having to log on from multiple computers to do it yourself. Your point and emphasis is lost here. Move on.

      • SJStar says

        How dare you. Who gives you the authority for Universe Today’s policies? I don’t want to read your pretentious crap either. What relevance is this to the storyline? Zero. So STFU!!

      • spew says

        “SJStar • 14 days ago • parent
        … Baa!”

        Pretentious I might be, but being asinine is something you’ve covered really well.Self editing would serve you better. You could begin on: http://www.universetoday.com/97272/an-awesome-view-of-curiositys-tummy/

  5. joseluis j says

    I hope that sometime in the near future I will see articles like this, but descibing the plate as “100 mm high (3.89 inches)” and not the opposite. USA and more notably, its scientists, should be using metric units already and leaving progressively the imperial system.

  6. Member
    Aqua4U says

    The Sky Crane worked but it sure did kick up a lot of gravel and dirt! It always amazes me to see just how much of it landed on the rover. No wonder that second wind sensor went south! Am sure mission planners are reconsidering future use of that concept.. I hope so anyway. Light weight cowlings or covers might be useful in future?

    • Dampe says

      I think the dust/pebbles flown up from the sky crane is almost miniscule in comparison to the dust aquired from the yearly dust storms
      *though I can see the concern if a rock should get caught in an important instrument.

  7. the_Siliconopolitan says

    Funny. Those decorations look like dead weight to me. Aren’t we always told that mass is off the essence?

  8. Zelong says

    Why a Plaque. Complete disregard for weight a waste of Space Time. A Plaque with bolts bigger than critical instrument anchoring. Look at the size of them suckers and it’s removable if you have a allan key 🙂 Couldn’t of just painted the Plaque on the plate… of course them Big Bolts are holding an instrument in-side… right 🙁 So what instrument was disregarded for this Plaque, there is One.

  9. Member
    Gozlemci says

    It is right ! The screws may be holding an heavy instrument, beside the plaque…

  10. Ironic plaque as this administration has greatly de-funded the planetary exploration program at NASA

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