The imaging specialists that allow us to see what spacecraft are doing on far-flung worlds are always coming up with new pictures to bring space exploration home. NASA has recently released a compilation of images that show the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity’s used parachute, flapping in the dry Martian breeze. The images were captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
All total, seven images were put in a sequence to show the parachute being moved this way and that. They were taken between August 12, 2012 (just six days after the rover’s successful landing in Gale Crater), and Jan. 13, 2013. Curiosity touched down safely on the Red Planet using a variety of methods to slow the rover’s descent. First, the parachute was deployed, then the James Bond-like jetpack, dubbed the “Sky Crane,” lowered Curiosity to the ground.
Video courtesy of NASA/JPL/MSSS
While the recently released slide show might be interesting, NASA has snapped an even more stunning shot of the parachute. When the rover was making its descent, MRO’s HiRISE camera was used to capture both the parachute and the encapsulated Curiosity making its grand entrance. This is the second time that NASA has done this—the first being the descent of the Mars Phoenix Lander in 2008. NASA has been using MRO to study the ever-changing Martian terrain since it arrived in orbit above the Red Planet in 2006.
Not to be left out, the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity was also imaged at the edge of the massive Victoria Crater.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in Pasadena, Calif., works with a number of organizations to produce stunning imagery such as the ones mentioned. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.