Flying Saucers Over Mars!
Posted by Jason Major
It might not be a UFO per se but it’s definitely a flying disk from another planet — except in this case the other planet is Earth! This image, a high-resolution version of one sent back by Curiosity’s Mars Descent Imager on the morning of August 6, shows MSL’s heat shield falling away, allowing the radar to get a lock on the descent stage’s position and altitude. Hey, it IS a saucer and it WAS flying… at least for a little while, anyway!
Check out a video of the event:
MSL’s 4.5-meter-wide heat shield is the largest ever built for a planetary mission. What we’re seeing here is the insulated inner-facing portion of it, shining in the sunlight high over the surface above Gale crater.
A few seconds after the above image was taken, the shield can be seen much farther away:
And here’s a video of the event, compiled with low-resolution thumbnail images:
As the days go on Curiosity is sending back more high-res images… keep up with the latest downloads on the MSL site here.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Adjusted to enhance detail and contrast.