Science

NASA’s animated gif shows Curiosity’s #wigglewigglewiggle ahead of its first movements on Mars

Mars Curiosity animated gif
Click image for larger view. Mars Curiosity animated gif. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Like a proud parent showing off every exploit of their newborn, NASA has been sharing images of its bundle of joy whenever it can.  And we’re about to get more as Curiosity is about to take its first steps.

We’ve seen photos of the Mount Sharp, to high resolution panoramas of the Martian landscape but all of these have been taken from the place Curiosity landed nearly two weeks ago.

But today NASA released this simple animated gif showing one of the rovers’ wheels “wiggling” (to paraphrase NASA) and for some reason it’s fascinating.  Perhaps it’s the anticipation of the adventure to come or the quality of the image but we can’t stop looking at it.

Mars Curiosity animated gif

Mars Curiosity animated gif. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Animation not playing? Want a larger view? Click here.

NASA gave a few details about the image on their site.  The Agency says the rover didn’t move from its position but operators on Earth just turned the wheels to make sure everything is in working order. Judging from the shadows to the right of the image the gif was recorded over a few hours. NASA said;

This set of images shows the movement of the rear right wheel of NASA’s Curiosity as rover drivers turned the wheels in place at the landing site on Mars. Engineers wiggled the wheels as a test of the rover’s steering and anticipate embarking on Curiosity’s first drive in the next couple of days. This image was taken by one of Curiosity’s Navigation cameras on Aug. 21.

There was some bad news today – the first since Curiosity’s near perfect, and quite staggering landing.  NASA announced that Curiosity’s wind sensors are damaged but said that this is not a major problem.  The Agency should still be able to get some readings from them but the measurements would be degraded.

NASA believes that the damage occurred when stones were thrown up during the final part of Curiosity’s landing procedure.  Scientists are trying to recover as much functionality as possible but won’t be able to fix the problem.

That disappointment aside Curiosity still has plenty of functioning tech – as NASA pointed out today when we got a look at the “70 lbs of science” at the end of Curiosity’s arm, which it will be using to conduct its experiments on the Red Planet.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).