A flat rock with pale, veiny fissures could be the first thing the Mars rover Curiosity drills for a sample of the Red Planet, NASA scientists said Tuesday. It's the most challenging task yet for the intrepid car-sized rover (after its landing). No spacecraft has ever penetrated a rock on Mars.
That didn't take long: early yesterday we received the earliest images from Mars rover Curiosity's descent and landing zone, and now we've received the first color image from the Mars mission. It shows the Gale Crater in the background - Curiosity's home for now - and the next images will only be getting better from here.
While NASA waits with bated breath for the Curiosity rover's arrival on the Martian surface, engineers at NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are already at work testing a new lunar rover designed to seek out water and other natural resources closer to home. The rover payload, known as the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction (RESOLVE), is designed to spend nine days prospecting for water resources on the moon sometime in the future.
When NASA's Curiosity Rover reaches Mars this August, it'll takes seven minutes to get from the tip of the atmosphere to the surface of the planet. Those seven minutes are a little scary for engineers who've sunk a lot of time into this project, so the descent is called the "seven minutes of terror." Here it gets highlighted by an awesome, super-dramatic video.