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Friday, October 5, 2012

One small step for a rover: The amazing 'first footprint on Mars' left by Curiosity

By MARK PRIGG

A Curious footprint: Nasa's rover left a print on the red plant that is eerily similar to Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon

At first glance, it appears that Man has stepped onto the surface of the red planet for the first time.
In an image uncannily similar to the one created when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.
However, in reality the martian 'footprint' is simply a bizarrely shaped 'scuff mark' left by Curiosity's tyre tread as the rover trundles over a ledge on the martian surface.

One of the footprints left on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong

Looking very similar to the iconic first footprint on the Moon from the Apollo 11 landing, this new raw image from the Curiosity rover on Mars shows one of the first 'scuff' marks from the rover’s wheels on a small sandy ridge.
This image was taken by Curiosity’s right Navcam on Sol 57 (2012-10-03 19:08:27 UTC). Nasa refers to each Martian day as a sol - with staff on the mission working to Martian time.

However, Neil Armstrong's incredible footprint is set to remain on the lunar surface for a long time - Nasa says the first footprints on the Moon will be there for a million years, since there is no wind to blow them away.
Research on the tracks left by Spirit and Curiosity revealed the time scale for track erasure by wind is typically only one Martian year or two Earth years - so the Martian footprint will be long gone by the time a true footprint is left on the Martian surface.
The image was produced as Nasa revealed the rover has been using the Foursquare service to 'check in' from Mars.
Curiosity will continue to check in at various locations throughout its Gale Crater landing site, posting photos and tips as it rolls along, NASA officials said.
'NASA is using Foursquare as a tool to share the rover's new locations while exploring Mars,' David Weaver, associate administrator for communications at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement.
'This will help to involve the public with the mission and give them a sense of the rover's travels through Gale Crater.'
Foursquare users will be able to earn a Curiosity-themed badge by checking in at museums, laboratories and other locations that generate an interest in science, engineering and technology, NASA officials said.

source: dailymail



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