Great updates, thanks. I haven't exhausted every resource by any means, but doesn't Curiosity have a "nuclear" power source instead of solar panels? I've looked around a bit but haven't found much on it, considering this is a remarkable difference from previous space craft or 'rovers'.
Looking forward to more photos, and this got me wondering: how long might the Curiosity outlive its official mission life?
And how far could it travel? In theory, if there were no major obstacles, like the Grand Canyon of Mars, could it travel to one of the poles (and what is its top speed?), or will its mission be lived out entirely in the crater area?
Good piece in Nature on the future of planetary exploration:
Bottom line: Unless NASA gets a budget increase, Curiosity is likely to be the last U.S. rover to land on Mars for the foreseeable future.
Highlights from today's (8/8) Curiosity briefing:
-All rover antennas and links are deployed and working "perfectly"
-100 Mbytes relayed back to Earth during Sol 2 (second day on the Martian surface)
-Surface temperature at Gale Crater a little warmer than expected.
-a 360-degree panorama of the landing site is expected to be taken on Sol 3
-Rocket motors on sky crane provided some "free trenching" of the surface that exposed bedrock. "We've already got an exploration hole drilled for us," said John Grotzinger, JPL project scientist
-Official landing time for Curiosity at Gale Crater was 10:17 p.m. PDT, but signal was not received on Earth until about 10:32 p.m. PDT.
-JPL image managers showed an image of a line of small impact craters made by ballast weights dropped before touchdown that were used to leverage the lander's angle of attack during descent. There are no plans to drive to these spots.
Much more to come.
NASA/JPL reports that Curiosity's mast containing its seven of the rover's 17 cameras has been successfully deployed.
View the first picture taken from the mast here:
A press briefing on the status of Curiosity is scheduled for 10 a.m. PDT
Neat, for a sec I was feeling dissapointed of the quality of the picture, then all makes sense.
It is necessary to protect optics until all dust picked up from descent has settled down. Very smart indeed, we are waitting with excitment for the follow up images...