Curiosity snaps first color picture PASADENA – NASA’s newly landed Mars science rover Curiosity snapped the first color image of its surroundings while an orbiting sister probe photographed litter left behind during the rover’s daring do-or-die descent to the surface, scientists said Tuesday.
Curiosity’s color image, taken with a dust cover still on the camera lens, shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater, a vast basin where the nuclear-powered, six-wheeled rover touched down Sunday night after flying through space for more than eight months.
The picture proved that one of the rover’s key instruments, a camera known as the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, was in good working order affixed to the end of Curiosity robot arm.
Designed to take magnified, close-up images of rocks and other objects, or wide shots of landscapes, the camera currently remains stowed on the rover’s deck. But once in full operation, scientists can use it to capture fine details with a resolution as high as 13.9 microns per pixel – several times finer than the width of a human hair.
“It works. It’s awesome. Can’t wait to open it and see what else we can see,” Curiosity scientist Ken Edgett told reporters on Tuesday.
The latest images were relayed to Earth during the rover’s first full day on the Red Planet, following a descent through the Martian atmosphere and touchdown on Sunday night that NASA hailed as the most elaborate and challenging ever in robotic spaceflight.
Belarus recalls embassy staff
MINSK – Belarus said on Wednesday it was withdrawing its remaining embassy staff from Sweden in a rift over a pro-democracy stunt involving an air drop of teddy bears on Belarus and told Stockholm to take similar action with its diplomats in Minsk.
A foreign ministry statement said it was not severing relations with Sweden. But the move marked an escalation in the dispute and looked certain to worsen already strained relations between the European Union and the former Soviet republic.
Belarus expelled Sweden’s ambassador on August 3 following the July 4 escapade in which hundreds of toy bears bearing pro-democracy messages were parachuted into the hardline former Soviet republic from a light aircraft chartered by a Swedish public relations firm.
The Belarussian ambassador to Stockholm was also withdrawn.