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Mars’ Mt. Sharp comes into focus

Curiosity has been busy sending new images of the surface of Mars.

The latest image, received late Monday morning and released at a news conference in the afternoon, shows Mt. Sharp, the peak the rover eventually is expected to climb. The new image also shows more clearly the dark dunes that separate the rover from the base of the mountain.

“There are no obstacles for driving” in any direction, said Joy Crisp, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist.

PHOTOS: A Mission to Mars with CuriosityOther data displayed include a series of color images taken from the bottom of Curiosity as it descended. Those images clearly show the heat shield falling away from the bottom of the craft as it descended, as well as a huge dust cloud kicked up by the rover as it neared the surface.

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Those images were taken by a camera created by Michael Malin, president of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. The camera was able to take images at a rate of four frames per second for about 150 seconds, totaling 600 images.

Malin showed what he called stop-action animation, knitting together 220 of those images. Malin also said he hoped to have animation of higher resolution images from the descent camera ready for release soon.

PHOTOS: History of Mars explorationMalin said the team was able to correlate the images with different sources of information coming from Curiosity, and they now know where in the Gale Crater the vehicle is located with incredible resolution.

“We’ve pinned it down to about a meter,” he said.

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MORE ON THE MISSION TO MARS:

Interactive: Curiosity: Liftoff to landing

NASA satellite photo shows Mars rover, parachute out, on descent

Mars rover draws on nuclear power for trek around Red Planet


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