The latest vistas from Curiosity put me in mind of Shelley’s sonnet.

“Look on these works, ye mighty, and despair.”

Of course, these are not the ruins of some civilization, but purely inanimate landscape. Yet, everything takes a form through a very leisurely evolution, compared to earth, and there it all sits, like some incredible junkyard.

Here is a simple panorama from the mastcam images of sol 1698.

… click to enlarge!

… Here’s the same scene on sol 1700, except for a forward displacement of Curiosity’s POV.

The very prominent knoll in the left foreground on sol 1700 can easily be located in the left middle ground on sol 1698.

The prominent features from the center to the lower right in the sol 1698 view are no longer in view on sol 1700.

The Martian Tree Stump

The “tree stump” on Mars was in the news this month, and it is indeed an interesting formation, of which there are countless examples in the Curiosity image gallery.  I don’t mind such fanciful descriptions, since it does bring attention to these images, and in fact my attention has flagged badly in the last few years, after having followed them assiduously in the early days.

I still have my PTGui panorama maker, and my “curiosity”, so I followed up on this one.

Since “You’re in the shop” I’ll share a minor glitch which vexed me greatly just yesterday, but today’s a new day and all is well.

I composed the following panorama which contains the frame from the Mast Camera that was publicized as showing a “tree stump”

Of course, it’s missing a piece! This does show that the panorama is composed of 8 separate ( overlapping ) images. But it is certainly a detraction. I spent maybe an hour trying to figure out what was wrong before I went ahead and let PTGui figure it out.

If you “click to enlarge”, then click the “+” to magnify, you will see the whole thing in the resolution of the “stump” panel that was in the news.

Well, then, today I found the following in the Raw image gallery:

So there we have it. ( This is an excerpt with the header note pasted on. ) So of course it was a simple matter to patch in and form the full panorama:

Much better! But what about this “stump” ? I looked for other images, and found the following from sol 1648, whereas this was sol 1647:

This is a panorama of 5 images from the mast cam, in color this time, as they usually are. Curiosity had moved “overnight” and you can see the large “fin” , which is to the right of the “stump” in both images, but this time the view of the “stump” shows lateral extension, indicating that the sol 1647 image was “edge on”.

Never fear, at center bottom we have a cylindrical post with some kind of runic marking! The poetry of Mars is never dead.

Sol 550 : A MAHLI Panorama

Here is a hotlinked sol 549 Navcam image of a small ridge that captured the interest of Curiosity. I think it’s about 2 feet long:

On sol 550 it took a series of MAHLI closeups, and also this Navcam image of the robotic arm ( with the MAHLI on it ) during the process of doing so:

BTW, here is an image which shows the arm in the stowed position, prelaunch:

There are three joints on the arm itself, with all the axes parallel, so it moves in one plane with motion of these three joints. There’s a vertical “post” that carries the arm assembly and allows it to swing out and away from the base. You can see it projecting downward near the left front wheel.

You can also see the name plate on top of the upper beam of the stowed arm, and the forward projecting arm joint at the right side of the rover. These are visible in many of the downward looking Navcam and Mastcam images, including the first image of this post.

If I had understood all this correctly, I never would have made that blooper in my SPOT OF BOTHER post!

Anyway, the MAHLI took a series of images of this little ridge on sol 550, and they appeared to be suitable for a panorama, so I tried it. It worked pretty well, but it is not a true panorama. The images on the left were part of a “scan” where the MAHLI changed position but kept pointing in the same direction, more or less. Then the images at the right were made by swinging the POV outward. It stitches down the centerline pretty well, but you can see some doubling up of particular features above and below. Well, a nice result and it shows incredible detail. As always, CLICK TO ENLARGE!

Looking back at Dingo Gap

Here is a 3 X 4 panorama from Mastcam images acquired on sol 538 around 2014-02-09 22:37:19 UTC. (Click to enlarge ! )

Compare the near horizon with this view from the landing site on sol 3:

You can see the same mesa-like structures on the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, and the same low dome to the left of them. Note that the gap between the mesas has opened up from the new position, as Curiosity has moved back and to the right from this sol 3 POV.

Finally, this animated gif is from the Rear Hazcam on sol 538, with images acquired at 2014-02-09 22:03:32 UTC, 2014-02-09 22:56:48 UTC, and 2014-02-10 00:37:23 UTC, so the second of these seems to be the POV of the Mastcam panorama. Note the dome of Mount Sharp visible in the first frame. … A very nice shot!

A spot of bother

As publicized, it appears Curiosity has made its move to traverse the rather striking looking sand bar at Dingo Gap. However, it looks like it is hung up a little. The panorama below, made from sol 533 Mastcam images, shows that the stowed robotic arm, with the nameplate on it, has touched the sand on the far side of the dune, which is just a few feet across here.

BTW, to make this panorama “stitch” I had to manually add control points by matching the tiny pebbles in the sand, so I’m quite proud of myself!

UPDATE: This “hangup” is just an illusion caused by the featureless sand background. The appearance I mistook for marks in the sand is actually strapping holding the nameplate to the round support arm. The support arm itself has the appearance of a shadow on the sand leading to my erroneous “gestalt” perception.

Here is a Navcam view from the same position which has a similar appearance, but in this case we can see that the drill bit holder ( attached to the front of Curiosity ) is beneath the nameplate, so the nameplate and arm are well clear of the sand.

Here is an animated gif from the sol 533 Front Hazcam images showing the approach to the crest of the dune.

The Mastcam panorama was taken around 2014-02-04 18:37:37 UTC whereas the last frame of the gif was at 2014-02-04 18:07:27 UTC, and the sol 534 Front Hazcam view is unchanged from sol 533, so I’m not sure how that works out.

… well, this just in: According to the sol 535 Front Hazcam view, shown here as an anaglyph, it looks like Curiosity has cleared Dingo Gap!

I’m not sure they’ve reached the promised land of no rocks, though.

Wheel check sol 513

On sol 513 Mars Curiosity used its MAHLI to take a set of 23 closeups of the undercarriage, i.e. the wheels. It seems to be a set of 24 with one missing. There are 6 views, 3 on each side, each repeated 4 times in different positions. Here is an animated gif made of 4 sets of 2 stitched images. I think it’s just good enough to give the effect of rolling. ( Click to enlarge ! )

Sol 508 panoramorama

Here’s a key to several of the panoramas contained in the sol 508 Mast camera images, based on a sol 508 Navcam panorama ( click to enlarge. )

The individual Mastcam panorama’s follow below. Note the swirly moire effect in the overlay I did. This may be taken as a stamp of authenticity due to a slight relative rotation of the images. I just used resizing ( zoom in paint.net ) and “translation”, as it’s called in graphical terms.

The Mastcam panoramas are 7×2, 3×2, and 5×3, comprising 35 images in all. There is another closeup panorama which I plan to cover in another post.

This 7×2 panorama lies along the forward path of Curiosity. There’s been a lot of concern about the beating that Curiosity’s wheels are taking, and I’m thinking that they are doing some extra scouting to try to avoid the worst rocks.

This view shows the close horizon that has been in view for a month now. Note the large rock which has been visible as a “nub” for some time. Curiosity will soon pass it by.

This layered basin is another version of “Shaler” I guess, although this seems to be beautifully sculpted by Aeolus in the shape of a bowl. I think these features change on a time scale of thousands of years or more, and Curiosity is something of a bull in a china shop up there, but how else would we see it?

Sleuthing the MAHLI

On Sol 506 Curiosity’s MAHLI acquired an image of a rock which had evidently attracted its, ah, curiosity.

But how so? The front Hazcam records this pair of images acquired at 2014-01-07 23:21:21 UTC and 2014-01-07 23:12:31 UTC, showing the deployment of the MAHLI above the imaged rock.

… but reminding ourselves that Curiosity’s brain resides at JPL, the action depicted must have been motivated by images previously acquired and transmitted, and we have to ask ourselves how this came about. In this case I think there’s a fair record.

We can discern that Curiosity arrived at this position on Sol 504, on which date we see a number of Navcam images of the area, including this double image “panorama” of the MAHLI image location

You can actually see the “MAHLI rock” to the left of the cylindrical joint projecting to the front, and the formation of darker rocks to the right of that are recognizable in the Front Hazcam images. These images were acquired around 2014-01-06 00:59, then around 2014-01-06 02:58, the Mastcam acquired the six images of this panoramic view

and there’s the rather nondescript “MAHLI rock” dead center.

This hardly explains what the particular attraction was, but it does give a record of the event if one is willing to “read between the images” … and I looked at a lot more of them!



Here’s another undercarriage view made with the MAHLI on Sol 476. I guess they’re still concerned about the wiring.

This time we have a nice front Hazcam shot of the MAHLI itself, pointed back at the front of Curiosity. It’s that little gizmo to the left of the “phone dial”, which is the APXS :

You’ll notice it’s an anaglyph! Most of the MSL raw image gallery is in stereo pairs, so I downloaded a free anaglyph maker ( anamk108 ) and it works well for me.

Curiosity has been dawdling near this spot for several sols, after making several good runs between sol 456 and sol 472. Here is a panoramic Mastcam view from sol 456, taken in the direction of travel. Note the small peak, or “rise” on the left, and the more distant “pass” or “canyon” appearing on the horizon to the right of center:

As Curiosity moved forward, the change in perspective on the rock patterns in front of the small peak were evident. Here is an attempt I made to triangulate between this sol 456 view and a later sol 465 NAVCAM view:

I wasn’t real sure about the foreground here, but I think the lines are about right.

Moving ahead to sol 470, we can see in this Mastcam panorama that Curiosity is much closer to the “canyon”, and it is not really a huge feature, but it does seem to be a little more spectacular than Yellowknife Bay.

I spent a lot of time staring at these rocks, but I couldn’t really line everything up. This is around when I decided to try the anaglyph idea. There is a lot of vertical relief in the form of a “rolling prairie” effect which is not evident in the raw images, since everything is littered with rocks. Here is a sol 470 Navcam anaglyph looking towards the “canyon”.

On sol 472, Curiosity was getting very close to this feature, and was adjacent to a large “sand pit” in front of it. In the foreground are several large rocks, which I felt I should be able to pick out in the sol 470 views, but I was having trouble doing this:

Of significant help was another anaglyph, from sol 472 this time, also showing these rocks in the foreground.

In the anaglyph, you can see that the large dark rock near the center is actually elevated a bit, and more to the foreground than it appears in the raw image. In the sol 470 anaglyph, it appears to be more even with the rock behind it, and this threw me off. These two rocks appear near the top left corner of the sol 470 anaglyph, and to the left of center in the far midground of the sol 470 Mastcam view, where they are fairly prominent.

When Curiosity moves past this “canyon”, I think it will be in new territory, and the changes in the landscape will continue as it finally approaches its “base camp” for the ascent of Mt. Sharp.

Sol 463 : A new view of Mount Fuji

This image was acquired with the MAHLI as it was evidently inspecting the undercarriage for possible clues to the floating bus voltage fluctuation. The composition is quite striking, and very suggestive of a human’s view peering under a vehicle, as I’m sure we’ve all done. It also makes for a novel “view of Mount Fuji”, in reference to one of my early posts, Six Views of Mount Fuji.