Skip to main content

Curiosity rover takes snapshot of Earth -- from 100 million miles away on Mars

Curiosity, NASA's Mars rover used the equivalent of a dust broom on its robotic arm to sweep away reddish, oxidized dust, revealing this gray patch of rock that resembles a paving stone. The rock is called "Bonanza King" and the rover team wants to use it as the rover's fourth drilling target, if it passes an evaluation by engineers. The photo was taken August 17, 2014, using the rover's mast camera, or Mastcam. Click through to see more of its images. Curiosity, NASA's Mars rover used the equivalent of a dust broom on its robotic arm to sweep away reddish, oxidized dust, revealing this gray patch of rock that resembles a paving stone. The rock is called "Bonanza King" and the rover team wants to use it as the rover's fourth drilling target, if it passes an evaluation by engineers. The photo was taken August 17, 2014, using the rover's mast camera, or Mastcam. Click through to see more of its images.
HIDE CAPTION
Photos: Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
Mars rover Curiosity
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NASA releases a photo taken last week from the Curiosity rover on Mars
  • It shows a speck NASA says is the rover's first image of Earth from the red planet
  • Earth, its moon would be "two distinct, bright 'evening stars'" to observers on Mars, NASA says
  • Curiosity launched from Florida in fall 2011, landing on Mars the next August to study that planet

(CNN) -- It's a dot in the sky.

But not just any dot. For the Curiosity rover, it's home.

NASA tweeted a photo Thursday taken by Curiosity from the Mars surface six days earlier. The image shows a speck above the horizon that a pointer identifies as Earth.

"Look Back in Wonder," reads the accompanying text from the Curiosity Rover's official Twitter feed. "My 1st picture of Earth from the surface of Mars."

Jade Rabbit moon rover in trouble
Spotted: Mystery rock on Mars

If it's possible for a 1-ton, roughly SUV-size vehicle to get homesick, it's had plenty of reason to shed a tear. The last time Curiosity was on Earth was November 26, 2011, when it set off aboard a NASA spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA launches Mars rover

Eight and a half months and some 352 million miles later, the rover landed safely on Mars with its 17 cameras and other assorted scientific instruments all intact. And almost as quickly, the Curiosity -- the centerpiece of a $2.6 billion project -- began transmitting images back to Earth.

But until now, none of those pictures actually showed Earth itself.

The one released by NASA, which was "processed to remove effects of cosmic rays," was taken about 80 minutes after Mars' sunset with what researchers call Curiosity's "left eye camera" on its "Mastcam." It shows not just Earth but another dot that NASA says is our moon.

(Earth was about 99 million miles away at that point, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Curiosity traveled a much longer distance to get to Mars because both planets are constantly in motion.)

Any Martian or Earthling who happened to be visiting wouldn't need such a special camera to see the same thing.

According to NASA, "A human observer with normal vision, if standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright 'evening stars.'"

Of course, photographing its native planet isn't Curiosity's main mission, which is exploring Mars.

Since landing in Gale Crater, Curiosity has helped scientists determine that an area called Yellowknife Bay was habitable in ancient times.

Here, from the rim of the crater came stream waters that formed "a lake-stream-groundwater system that might have existed for millions of years," John Grotzinger, lead scientist on the Curiosity mission, wrote in last month's edition of the journal Science.

NASA: 2 places on Mars could have been habitable

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Space
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Scientists believe that a hot gas bubble was formed by multiple supernovas.
updated 11:47 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robonaut is the next generation dexterous robot
Life aboard the International Space Station.
updated 9:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
NASA's New Horizons mission hurtles toward Pluto in historic 3 billion mile expedition.
updated 4:44 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
Rosetta spacecraft arrives at its destination, Comet 67P after a 10-year journey around the solar system.
After a 10-year chase the Rosetta spacecraft is now orbiting a comet
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"Here comes the sun" indeed, and it was just barely all right.
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Seems NASA's fascination with the moon is in the past. It's focused on something far more menacing: incoming asteroids
updated 11:56 PM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize.
updated 3:39 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
The U.S. Army brainchild "Project Horizon" was born. Its proposal to leap beyond the Soviets opened with the line: "There is a requirement for a manned military outpost on the moon."
updated 3:36 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Back in July 1969, I stood on the talcum-like lunar dust just a few feet from our home away from home, Eagle, the lunar module that transported Neil Armstrong and me to the bleak, crater-pocked moonscape.
updated 3:43 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
solar flare july 2014
From Earth, the sun appears as a constant circle of light, but when viewed in space a brilliant display of motion is revealed.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
The full moons of this summer -- July 12, August 10 and September 9 -- are supermoons, as NASA calls them.
updated 11:51 AM EDT, Sun June 29, 2014
If you think you saw a flying saucer over Hawaii, you might not be crazy -- except what you saw didn't come from outer space, though that may be its ultimate destination.
updated 9:47 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
The U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit. But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance.
updated 10:21 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
When I first poked my head inside Virgin Galactic's newest spaceship, I felt a little like I was getting a front-row seat to space history.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The sun is putting on a fireworks show again.
updated 7:02 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
A year is a very long time on Mars -- 687 days. NASA's Curiosity rover can attest that it's enough time for some unexpected life changes.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Fri May 2, 2014
At least one corner of the solar system may be serving up an ice-and-water sandwich, with the possibility of life on the rocks.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
You can't see it happening on Earth, but space itself is stretching. Ever since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been getting bigger.
updated 7:59 AM EST, Fri February 28, 2014
Our galactic neighborhood just got a lot bigger. NASA announced the discovery of 715 new planets.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
Scientists have made a breakthrough in understanding how our world as we know it came to be.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.
ADVERTISEMENT