Awesome First Snapshot of Earth From Curiosity Rover

The twilight sky and Martian horizon seen by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover include Earth as the brightest point of light.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU

Not much more than just a few pixels on the photo above, that bright dot in the twilight Martian sky is Earth, as seen by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover.

A first view of the rover’s picture of its home planet, taken from the surface of Mars, even shows Earth’s moon.

And while NASA engineers say they have removed the effects of cosmic rays on this released image, any sky-watcher on Mars would clearly be able to make out Earth and its lone natural satellite as seen here, viewing them as two bright ‘evening’ stars in the dusky skies.

The distance between Earth and Mars when Curiosity captured this surreal view some 80 minutes after local sunset on January 31, 2014, was about 99 million miles (160 million kilometers).

The actual first image of Earth taken from the surface of a world beyond the moon, it is worth mentioning, was taken by another Mars invader, NASA’s Spirit rover, which saw Earth from Mars back in 2004.

Sky-watchers can look for Mars rising high in the predawn southern skies this week in the constellation Virgo.  Credit: Starry Night Software -  A.Fazekas
Sky-watchers can look for Mars rising high in the predawn southern skies this week in the constellation Virgo. Credit: Starry Night Software/A. Fazekas

Coincidentally, Earthlings can now look back at Curiosity’s new home and see Mars in our skies too. Look toward the high southern sky before local dawn for a view of the brilliant, ruddy star. Mars will be shining just above Spica, a bright blue-white star in the constellation Virgo.

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Changing Planet

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.