Curiosity Rover Captures Martian Day

Mars Curiosity rover | Image by NASA

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover rolled its cameras from dusk to dawn on the surface of Mars, sending back multiple images over a 12-hour period.

NASA announced on December 28 that the rover’s onboard Hazard-Avoidance Cameras (Hazcams) had captured black-and-white videos of the entire Martian day on November 8. The normally mobile unit was set to be motionless during a predicted radio communication interference.

“Instructions to record the videos were part of the last set of commands beamed up to Curiosity just before the start of Mars solar conjunction, a period when the Sun is between Earth and Mars,” reads the press release. “Because plasma from the Sun can interfere with radio communications, missions hold off on sending commands to Mars spacecraft for several weeks during this time.”

NASA scientists decided to use the Hazcams to record 12 hours’ worth of snapshots, in the hope that the cameras would capture Martian weather events.

NASA received a pair of 25-frame videos after the solar conjunction concluded. The first video was from the front-facing camera pointing southeast along Gediz Vallis while the second was from the rear-facing camera which was pointed northwest down Mount Sharp.

While no weather events were captured, the footage does show the shadow of the rover drifting over time as well as visual anomalies due to cosmic rays, exposure, and the years of dust accumulated on the cameras. NASA likened Curiosity’s arm to a sundial as the day passed.

The Curiosity rover has achieved several feats and discoveries since it first landed on the red planet in 2012. More recently, the craft found hexagonal patterns on the surface that indicated that the planet may have once had favorable conditions to support microbial life, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

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