Picture of the Day: NASA Tests Curiosity's High-Resolution Camera

502749main_PIA13582_full.jpg

These look like fairly large rocks, but they're actually very small grains of sand. The ball bearings that you can see -- one at the top and another near the bottom -- in the photograph were placed there to provide a sense of scale; they each measure two millimeters across (0.08 inches in diameter); the entire picture is just one inch square. In the reflection of those bearings you can see the four white LEDs from the special camera that took this picture.

Shot on a sand dune near Christmas Lake, Oregon, this photograph was a test shot for NASA's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on Curiosity. "This image has a resolution of 15.4 microns per pixel, which is about twice as high as the camera resolution on Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity," NASA explained. "Geologists can examine an image like this for information about the composition of the sand. In this case, the largest white grains are pumice fragments and the dark black and gray grains are fragments of basalt. Nearly transparent, slightly yellow crystals are feldspars. The crystals and pumice were erupted by Mount Mazama in its terminal explosion about 7,700 years ago; the volcano is known today as Crater Lake."

View more Pictures of the Day.

Image: NASA.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Technology

Just In