Alright, so we all knew this was going to be the case, but the amount of debris left over from Curiosity’s landing on August 5th is impressive. It may also lead to some actual research.
The position of all the parts used for the complex landing are shown in the picture above.
Curiosity’s parachute and back shell are seen on the surface of Mars in this image. The parachute helped gently slow the decent of the rover on it way to the surface. When the back shell hit the ground, bright dust was kicked up, exposing darker material underneath.
The impact of Curiosity’s sky crane, which helped deliver the rover to the surface of Mars by lowering it the final 20 feet on a tether, exposed the darker material underneath the surface dust when it landed after being jettisoned away from the rover.
The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took all of these images about 24 hours after the landing. Because of the impacts, the orbiting science stations around Mars have an opportunity (no pun intended) to analyze the areas exposed by the crashes of the heat shield, shell and sky crane. If only someone had the spirit to make it happen (ok, so pun intended).
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– Ex astris, scientia –