First Color Photo of Mars by the Curiosity Rover

After shooting black-and-white landscape photos for a day, everyone’s favorite Martian robot photographer is now dabbling in color photography. NASA’s Curiosity rover beamed back its first color photo today, showing the rim of its new crater home.

The photo was shot with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), one of seventeen cameras in the rover’s camera bag. It shoots true color photographs at 1600×1200 pixels of resolution (~2 megapixels) and a focal length of 18.3mm-21.3mm.

The camera can also be used for super close-up photos of Martian rock and soil, using focus stacking to achieve great depth of field. Files are stored either as RAW data or through lossless predictive or JPEG processing.

If you’re wondering why the image is so murky, it’s not because it was shot in the midst of a sandstorm. The camera’s dust cover is reportedly covered with a layer of dust that was blown onto it during the rover’s descent onto the planet.

The cover is expected to be removed within the next few weeks, providing an even clearer color view of the surrounding area.

Image credit: Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

  • Samcornwell

    Oh my good grief, look at all that sensor dust! Better get the magic butterfly out. If NASA need an experienced photographer to go and sort it out, I’m free.

  • monteraz

    Hasselblad in the first moon expeditions, a crappy 2 mpx mobile phone camera in 2012

  • Zak Henry

    NASA doesn’t have the luxury of having the film taken back to earth to develop, nor the bandwidth to send 40 megapixel images. Besides, they can (and do) make composite images for bigger landscape images

  • Dylan IRL

    I presume it’s because they brought the hasselblad back with them and then processed the film as opposed to the the Curiosity which will stay on Mars and also has to transmit the pictures back to Earth

  • Tracy Nanthavongsa

    Would a D4 or 1D X not survive in space?

  • Dylan IRL

    Pretty sure it would be fine if it had the right type of protection, but its probably more to do with power consumption and transmitting images back

  • Toomas Kadarpik

    with robot hand they can get large panoramas as well. The camera sensor must be very durable, this is why it is so low density,

  • Keiran Blackwell

    :D It’s a 36 month round trip… 8 months there. 20 months till the next launch window, 8 months back. Still up for it? :D

  • Simon

    Im pretty sure the images from spirit and opportunity were better than these?

  • Simon

    Ahhh dust, right.
    But what’s with the weird crop? Something they don’t want us to see perhaps?

  • DLL

    A guess would be that the rover was on an sloped surface at that moment and they rotated the image so that the horizon is “horizontal”.

  • Chris Popely

    Of course, eleven D3S’s have been up in the last three years along with seven 14-24mm f/2.8G’s, and no doubt a handful of other lenses. They work perfectly well, but they aren’t exactly what NASA would consider energy efficient, even with a battery grip attached. =P