[QODLink]
Americas
Mars rover beams back first pin-sharp images
NASA releases more spectacular pictures and audio from planet, likening it to Neil Armstrong's landmark lunar landing.
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2012 00:40
Scientists commented on the newest images of the tracks left by the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars [AFP]

NASA has beamed back more spectacular pictures from Mars - and a first voice message - likening it to the lunar landmark led by Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon who died last week.

In the audio message, broadcast from the surface of the Red Planet by the Curiosity Rover, NASA administrator Charles Bolden forecast that a manned mission to Mars could happen "in the not too distant future".

"Another small step has been taken extending the human presence beyond earth," NASA expert Dave Lavery, echoing Armstrong's famous first words on the Moon in 1969, said.

Experts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, released more pictures taken by the $2.5bn rover, which landed at Gale Crater on the Red Planet on August 6.

One showed a panorama, in pin-sharp resolution showing individual rocks, of the landscape visible from the rover, including Mount Sharp, the slopes of which Curiosity plans to drive toward in the coming weeks and months.

John Grotzinger, the mission's chief scientist, said the landscape looked like "something that comes out of a John Ford movie", referring to typical backdrop in films by the classic Western director.

And he compared the tire tracks made by Curiosity, visible in some of the photos, to images of the first footprints on the Moon made by Armstrong, whose death at 82 was announced by his family on Saturday.

"What we are seeing here is the results of tracks involving the first motions of the rover. I think instead of a human it's a robot pretty much doing the same thing," Grotzinger said.

In a pre-recorded voice message, uploaded to the rover before being beamed back to Earth, Bolden said he was "speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity rover which is now on the surface of Mars".

"Since the beginning of time, humankind's curiosity has led us to constantly seek new life, new possibilities just beyond the horizon," he said, adding that the rover "prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future".

"This is an extraordinary achievement. Landing a rover on Mars is not easy. Others have tried. Only America has fully succeeded," he added.

367

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The conservative UMP party suffers from crippling internal divisions and extreme debt from mismanagement.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
join our mailing list