Rabe Crater, Mars
Rabe Crater is a 108 km-wide impact crater with an intricately shaped dune field. The dune material likely comprises locally eroded sediments that have been shaped by prevailing winds. Other smaller craters in the region also contain these dark deposits. One relatively young and deep crater can be seen in the upper left; as well as the dark material, channels and grooves are clearly visible in its crater walls.
Source: Flickr / europeanspaceagency
Today I learned that the Curiosity sang itself ‘Happy Birthday’ on its year anniversary of being on Mars.
Hundreds of thousands of miles from anyone or anything.
Guys I am depressed over robots now.
oh god this is the saddest thing i have ever read
Guys, shhh. No, this isn’t sad.
Curiosity isn’t hundreds of thousands of miles from anyone or anything. Curiosity has Spirit, Opportunity, Mars 3, Sojourner, Viking 1, and Viking 2 to keep him company on the red planet.
Opportunity is still exploring; Spirit, while still functional, is stuck in a crater, so cannot move around very much. The rest of them are quiet, asleep; old and beautiful and dignified in their silence
Curiosity sang Happy Birthday to himself and he had Spirit and Opportunity with him—and he had an entire planet down below to celebrate his life, his achievements, his brilliance
Curiosity sang Happy Birthday to celebrate an entire year of doing what he was designed to do; an entire year of exploring a planet on which he was not born, an entire year of roving and collecting information
an entire year of Mars becoming his home to share with his precursors, several of which are miraculously still doing their jobs (Opportunity was only expected to last 90 days; he’s lasted TEN YEARS)
it was a song of absolute euphoric joy, not one of loneliness
Curiosity is the exact opposite of lonely; he has hundreds of thousands of people down below who adore him, family at ground control to communicate with him constantly; and plenty of kin on the red planet’s surface to keep him company.
This is the exact opposite of sad.
Mars rover selfies!
Continuing with this week’s celebration of Opportunity: These are two self portraits Opportunity took on mars - a composite images of several photos it took with it’s camera. The first was taken after about 300 days on Mars. Opportunity is still looking pretty slick. But after enduring several Martian winters, it’s caked with so much dust, it blends right into the ground.
Amazingly, those solar panels are still providing power - and the journey continues. Crazy! Most cars can’t last 10 years without a single trip to the mechanic.
When people scoff at sending humans to Mars, and say that pictures of wheel marks on a red desert are not worth the trouble when there are so many things here at home that we could be spending money on, it makes me claustrophobic. It’s as if we’re trying, out of guilt or shame, to crawl back into the cave and watch the shadows on the wall. We’re trying to stay children in our parents’ house, knowing that the road leads to town, and then to another town. We’re saying, “Look, we made a really great toilet that flushes itself! Remember that printing press? That was pretty neat. We even made pyramids — those things are huge! Can’t we just be happy with making a great toilet even greater? Do we really have to go to Mars?”
But Mars is waiting. It spins now outside our human reach. We must realize that the work of growing up is not something we can cut when the budget gets tight. It is mission critical, for the intellectual life of the species, for the future of humans, not to stagnate, not to wither, but to stretch, and reach, and always to expand.
This view of Curiosity’s deck shows a plaque bearing several signatures of US officials, including that of President Obama and Vice President Biden. The image was taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the rover’s 44th Martian day, or sol, on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). The plaque is located on the front left side of the rover’s deck.
The rectangular plaque is made of anodized aluminum and measures 3.94 inches (100 millimeters) tall by 3.23 inches (82 millimeters) wide. The plaque was affixed to the rover’s deck with four bolts.
Similar plaques with signatures — including those of the sitting president and vice-president — adorn the lander platforms for NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on Mars in January of 2004. An image from Spirit’s plaque can be found at PIA05034.
The main purpose of Curiosity’s MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover’s Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the rover itself from different angles.