Curiosity’s cameras (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Seeing is indeed believing and then lab testing to confirm what one saw seems to be NASA’s approach during its most advanced Mars mission to be carried out by Curiosity rover. By my count Curiosity is armed with nearly 20 cameras to record everything it sees and does.
There are at least eight Hazcams or Hazard Cameras, four Navcams or Navigation Cameras, one ChemCam or Chemistry and Camera, two Mastcams or Mast Cameras on top, one MARDI or Mars Descent Imager, and one MAHLI or Mars Hand Lens Imager.
Within two hours of landing early Monday morning (1.31 a.m. EDT) Hazcams attached to the rover’s body will take low resolution (1 megapixel) pictures and transmit them back to the mission control. “A set of low-resolution gray scale Hazcam images will be acquired within minutes of landing on the surface," Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California has been quoted as saying in an official release. "Once all of the critical systems have been checked out by the engineering team and the mast is deployed, the rover will image the landing site with higher-resolution cameras."
NASA release said, “These first views will give engineers a good idea of what surrounds Curiosity, as well as its location and tilt. "Ensuring that the rover is on stable ground is important before raising the rover’s mast," said Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper at JPL. "We are using an entirely new landing system on this mission, so we are proceeding with caution."”
“As the mission progresses, the entire suite of cameras and science instruments will work together to hunt for clues to the mystery of Mars and help answer the long-standing puzzle of whether our next-door-neighbor planet has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life,” NASA said.
Going by the number of cameras on this mini-car sized rover, it might make sense for NASA to produce reality TV along the lines of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ The Kardashians too after all a curious life form that requires constant monitoring. If only NASA’s other previous six rovers were in the vicinity, some kind of sibling rivalries could have been created to build up the reality drama.