Mars Rover Snaps Test Shot Near Landing Site (Photo)

Focusing the 34-millimeter Mastcam
The 34-millimeter Mastcam takes images with lower resolution, but a much wider field of view than the 100-millimeter Mastcam. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity snapped this shot on Aug. 23 to help test and calibrate its 34-millimeter Mast Camera.

The view looks south-southwest from Curiosity's landing site inside Mars' huge Gale Crater. A gravelly area is visible in the foreground, beyond which the bouldren-strewn rim of an impact crater can be seen.

Farther off in the distance are dark sand dunes, and then the colorful layered rocks at the base of Mount Sharp, the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) peak that rises from Gale's center. These rocks, and others like them, represent Curiosity's chief science target, for they bear evidence of contact with liquid water long ago.

The $2.5 billion Curiosity rover touched down on the Red Planet on Aug. 5. The 1-ton robot carries 10 science instruments to help determine if Mars is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life.

The 34-millimeter MastCam is one of Curiosity's 17 cameras. It takes lower resolution photos but has a much wider field of view than the rover's 100-millimeter Mastcam.

For complete coverage of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit here.

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