What will Curiosity see as it closes in on the Red Planet?
In the sky, Mars looks like a bright, copper-colored star. It takes a telescope to be able to tell that it’s more than a dot, that it’s a whole world. And it takes a big telescope to be able to see any kind of detail on its surface.
But with the Mars Curiosity rover just days away from landing, I was wondering what Mars would look like if you could physically ride along. If you were somehow onboard the spacecraft that’s carrying the rover, and you had a window to look through, what would you be able to see today? Would Mars still be a red star? Or would you be able to make out the planet’s disc yet?
To find out, I fired up NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System site. This amazing tool creates realistic simulated views based on real data that let you follow any planet, moon or spacecraft across time and space, in 3D and in real time. You really just have to play with it to know what I mean.
Here are a few screenshots that show what I found, plus a short movie of what the final approach will look like.
Update July 30: New – Check out the new entry, descent and landing simulation on Eyes!
30 Seconds to Mars
This video shows a time lapse view of the final day’s approach.
For a quick guide to the mission and the landing, see this one-page “cheat sheet“.