recommended reading

Our Mars Orbiter Looked Down and Saw Our Mars Rover

NASA

Right now, five human spacecrafts study Mars by hanging out near it. Two do it from the Martian surface—the Curiosity rover, which began its mission in 2012, and the more-than-a-decade-old Opportunity rover—and three do it while orbiting around the red planet. 

Earlier this month, one of those kinds of spacecraft happened to see the other. 

On April 11, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed near Aeolis Mons, a mountain near the equator in the planet’s eastern hemisphere. It photographed a hilly region nearby known as the Kimberley, and there it caught a robot that’s been hanging out among the hills for the past few months: the Mars Curiosity Rover.

That image—which has been slightly color-tweaked—is above. Curiosity is the blue, almost-beetle-like object in the center: It’s about the size of an SUV. Behind it, 9-foot-wide tracks snake and curve through the landscape. You can see them enter the picture near the top, and the whole photo captures a little over a month of rover tracks. According to NASA, the rover entered the area being imaged on March 12, 2014.

The entire image is 1,200 feet wide, about a fifth of a mile. 

This isn’t the first time the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has seen Curiosity. In August 2012, it captured the rover parachuting into the Martian atmosphere. And just this January, it caught the rover inspecting a crater nearby.

NASA, in fact, purposefully pilots the orbiter near the rover. Like on Earth, it helps scientists to get a view of the terrain from multiple angles. The rover, too, has been taking photos of this area.

Flyby photos of this type don’t just happen on Mars. Earlier this year, the youngest satellite in the Landsat program—a long-running U.S. Geological Survey project to continuously photograph the Earth’s surface—captured an image of an earlier Landsat satellite zooming below. Unlike the stable Curiosity Rover, the Landsat craft looked, in the image, like a black smear. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.