How A Sundial Lets Curiosity See Mars in Living Color

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 15:31 in Astronomy & Space

Curiosity's Sundial Courtesy Tyler NordgrenIs that rock brick-red, ochre or salmon-colored? PASADENA, Calif. -- We've seen a brief sample of the full-color environment at Gale Crater on Mars, but before the Mars rover Curiosity can beam back full-size versions, its cameras need a checkup. Scientists want to be sure they're seeing Mars as it really looks, in real ochre -- so the cameras have to be calibrated. To do it, Curiosity will call upon one of the most ancient tools of astronomy: A sundial. Mars images are stunning to see, but they offer real science value, too, because Curiosity's science team will use them as their eyes on Mars. Curiosity's view of the rim of Gale Crater and Mt. Sharp at its center will help the team determine where the rover should drive first, and after that, which rocks will be most interesting to zap with its ChemCam laser or drill...

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