Orbiter stains Curiosity from space, shows Rover on the surface of Mars

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NASA's Curiosity Mars rover can be seen in this space-shot image May 31, 2019, from the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In the image, Curiosity appears as a bluish dot. NASA / JPL-Caltech

If you're wondering how Curiosity is going on Mars, now you can see for yourself, thanks to this rover image captured by NASA's HiRISE camera.

Curiosity is beautiful in a place called Woodland Bay, which is part of the clay unit that has been exploring for several months. It is looking for clay in particular because it is formed when water is present, therefore the identification of the clay indicates that there may have been surface water on Mars in the distant past. The clay carrier unit is located on one side of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile (5 km) high mountain located within the Gale Crater.

If you look closely, you can see the Curiosity tree protruding up the left on the rover. This is the remote sensing tree, a long arm that supports instruments such as ChemCam, which analyzes the composition of remote rocks using a laser, and the Mastcam, a high definition camera that captures images and videos from the planet's surface . When this image was taken, the rover was facing 10 on a dial, so the tree appears in front of the rover.

The rover and its tree in particular are very bright in the image, due to the way HiRISE works. Thanks to its smooth surfaces, the rover reflects the light that is detected by the HiRISE camera. "A specular (mirror) reflection occurs when most of the light that hits a surface is reflected in a single direction and can be seen by an observer who looks exactly from that direction," explained Alfred McEwen, Principal HiRISE Investigator declaration. "So for HiRISE to see specular reflections on the rover, the sun and MRO must be in the right positions."

HiRISE is a tool aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), an orbiting boat that collects data for scientific missions and helps other boats to land on the planet. He helped select landing sites for previous Mars landers such as the Phoenix, and worked as a support during InSight's landing. HiRISE is enjoying something a couple of famous weeks, since it's the same camera that saw the Star Trek logo on Mars last month.


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