Latest Mars rover pics show rocket impact
The distant blob seen in the view on left, taken by a Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA's Curiosity rover, may be a cloud created during the crash of the rover's descent stage. Pictures taken about 45 minutes later (right) do not show the cloud, providing further evidence it was from the crash. / NASA/JPL-Caltech
(CBS/AP) - The latest photographs from Mars rover Curiosity provided, among other things, a minor mystery for the NASA operations team. What exactly is that strange cloud of dust in the distance?
A NASA engineer said Friday he's pretty sure a Curiosity rover camera caught the rocket stage crashing in the distance after it landed in Gale Crater Sunday night.
A grainy, black-and-white picture taken about 40 seconds after landing shows a plume of dust in the distance. It's not visible in a picture taken nearly an hour later.
Curiosity touched down on Mars using a new landing technique. During the last few seconds, a rocket stage hovered and slowly lowered the six-wheel rover to the ground. The rocket stage then flew away and crashed.
The landing rockets left visible marks on the Martian surface as the 1-ton rover touched ground. As the rover continues its post-landing evaluations and testing, more images of Mars - and Curiosity's impact on the planet - are being released.
Engineers say a preliminary reconstruction of the landing reveals everything went according to plan.
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