Gigglebit: A fisheye view of Mars

20 Aug 2014

The Martian atmosphere, visible on the horizon in this low-orbit photo. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Gigglebit is Siliconrepublic’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, to help start your day on a lighter note.

Like any sector, technology has a serious side, and it is often issues within this serious side that make headlines or that organisations need to explore for their business. Malware! Data breaches! Cloud storage! Do I really need this software? What candidate has the best IT skills for this job, and what the heck is fog computing?

With Gigglebit, we turn the spotlight on humorous and/or amazing content about science and tech, because sometimes the lighter side should be taken seriously, too.

Today, we share a fisheye image below, from US space agency NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. The view is down a ramp at ‘Hidden Valley’ on the red planet.

Curiosity’s front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam), which has a very wide-angle lens, recorded this view on 14 August, NASA said.

In the foreground, among the pale rocks, is the ‘Bonanza King’, which may become the fourth rock drilled by the Mars Science Laboratory mission. 

No previous mission has collected sample material from the interior of rocks on Mars, NASA said. Once the drilled rock powder is collected, Curiosity delivers the sample to analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

Also visible in the image are wheel tracks at the top right, which show where Curiosity drove into the valley, and back out again, earlier this month. 

The largest of the individual flat rocks in the foreground are a few inches (several centimetres) across. For scale, the Curiosity’s left front wheel, visible on the left, is 20 inches (0.5 metres) in diameter.

Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity is helping scientists study the planet’s climate and geology, and whether it has ever sustained microbial life.

The rover has been exploring Mars for just over two years now, after having been launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on 26 November 2011.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic