Posts Tagged ‘curiosity’

A White-Balanced Panoramic Photo of a Martian Mountain, Courtesy of Curiosity

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The latest panorama sent down by NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is unique in more ways than one. Not only is it a panorama taken on another planet (still blows our minds), it’s also been subjected to some post production. The photo — a piece of which is seen above — has actually had its white balance modified by NASA to make it look more like it was taken on Earth. Read more…

Curiosity Rover Beams Down Stunning Self-Portrait Panorama from Mars

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When the Mars Rover Opportunity was nearing its 9th year in the Martian sun, we shared a beautiful panoramic landscape shot of the red planet taken by the aging rover. It makes sense then that Curiosity would eventually send down a panorama of its own. But just like you would expect from a younger generation of rover, it couldn’t help but make the pano a selfie. Read more…

Curiosity Shoots First Nighttime Photos on the Surface of Mars

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NASA’s Curiosity rover quietly accomplished another photographic first today. This time it was the first nighttime photographs captured on the surface of the Red Planet.
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Who is the Photographer Behind Photos Shot by the Curiosity Rover on Mars?

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We’ve written a number of posts regarding the NASA Curiosity rover’s photography on Mars, but have you ever wondered who it is that “presses the shutter”? If you have, you’re not alone. The Planetary Society recently received the question as well, and has published an official explanation from NASA:

It would be nice if the pictures took themselves. But it takes a village, it seems, to get a picture taken on Mars [...] for a single snap shot you might have the Geology Science Theme Group conceive and design it en masse; the PUL-1 plan it; the entire (on staff) Science Operations Working Group discuss it and include it in the daily plan, the PUL-2 actually write it, and the engineering uplink team review and approve it before the Ace hits the button to radiate it, with the sol’s command, bundle to the rover. That’s a group the size of a small village.

Camera operator Mark Lemmon also talks about how the team often goes to great lengths to nail lighting and composition. With so many resources drained into each photo, casual snapshots aren’t exactly Curiosity’s thing.

Who is the photographer behind Mars rover photos? Answer from Mark Lemmon [The Planetary Society]

An Arm’s-Length Self-Portrait Captured Millions of Miles Away

Facebook users here on Earth aren’t the only ones shooting arm’s-length self-portraits: NASA’s Curiosity rover over on Mars is doing it as well! Curiosity captured the image above a couple of days ago using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), which is attached to an extendable robotic arm. The image is actually a composite of 55 separate photos shot using the 2-megapixel RGB color CCD camera.
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1909 Lincoln Penny Used to Calibrate the Mars Curiosity Rover’s Camera on Mars

Did you know that there’s US currency on Mars? It’s true: when NASA’s Curiosity rover was launched back on November 26, 2011, one of the things it carried with it was a penny from over a century ago. The 1909 Lincoln cent is part of the rover’s onboard calibration target used to check that the cameras are working properly.
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MIOPS: Smartphone Controllable High Speed Camera Trigger

MIOPS is a new smartphone-controlled camera trigger that combines all of the features photographers want in a high-speed camera trigger into one convenient device.

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How the Curiosity Rover’s Photography Decisions Are Made

Earlier this month, when we were exploring why the NASA Curiosity rover’s cameras are so lame, we mentioned that the total amount of data the scientists can transfer on a daily basis is only around 31 megabytes. As anyone with a restrictive cell phone dataplan can attest to, having a small data cap makes you think carefully about the data that you choose to download. Glenn Fleishmann over at The Economist has an interesting writeup that sheds some light on how NASA scientists make their Martian photo shoot decisions:

Every day Justin Maki faces a tricky balancing act. He is one of the boffins at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) responsible, among other things, for deciding what Curiosity photographs each Martian day, or sol, and which pictures it sends back home. “We can always take enough pictures to fill up the downlink,” Dr Maki says. The mission can currently beam at least 30MB a sol, including scientific measurements, engineering data and images, from Mars, via two satellites orbiting the planet, to Earth.

All of the rover’s 17 cameras, seven more than any previous exploratory vehicle, store images in a raw, unprocessed format and initially beam back tiny thumbnails (which NASA uploads as they come in). The scientists working on different aspects of the mission meet daily to determine which of the thumbnails to download in higher resolution. The “health and safety” of the rover takes priority. After the deliberations, which can last over an hour, instructions are dispatched to Mars.

Taking pictures on Mars: Red eyes (via Boing Boing)

Footage of Curiosity’s Descent onto Mars Interpolated to 25 Frames per Second

NASA’s Curiosity Rover snapped photographs at 5 frames per second as it descended onto the face of Mars a few weeks ago. The footage that results when the images are combined into a 15 frame per second HD video is pretty amazing, but apparently not amazing enough for a YouTube user named hahahaspam. He spent four straight days taking the 5 fps footage and interpolating it to 25 frames per second. This means that instead of a video showing the choppy landing at 3 times the actual speed, his video shows the landing smoothly and in real time!
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The Curiosity Rover’s Descent into Mars as an Amazing HD Video

When NASA’s Curiosity rover performed its “seven minutes of terror” landing on Mars a couple weeks ago, the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) camera had the task of capturing 1600×1200 (~1.9 megapixel) photographs at a rate of 5 frames per second. The camera began snapping away from when the heatshield separated to a few seconds after the rover touched down. The amazing high-definition video above was created with these photographs, showing what it’s like to fall onto the surface of the red planet.
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Why the Mars Curiosity Rover’s Cameras Are Lame by Today’s Standards

The first self-portrait captured by the rover

Ever since NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars and started beaming back photographs earlier this week, people have been wondering, “why are the photos so bad?” The criticism seems merited: consumers these days are snapping great high-res photographs using phones that cost just hundreds of dollars, yet NASA can’t choose a camera with more than 2-megapixels of resolution for their $2.5 billion mission?

In an interview with dpreview, project manager Mike Ravine of Malin Space Science Systems — the company that provided three of the rover’s main cameras — explains that there were a couple main reasons behind the “lame” cameras: data transfer and fixed specifications.
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