08/08/2012 08:49 BST | Updated 07/10/2012 10:12 BST

Mars Curiosity Rover Sends Back First Colour Photos Of Red Planet's Surface (PICTURES)


The Mars rover Curiosity has sent back its first colour images of the red planet's surface.

And it turns out Mars is kind of... orangey.

The £1.6bn, one-tonne vehicle, which landed on Mars early Monday in what Nasa called its 'hardest ever' mission, sent the photos back via a satellite above the planet.

The six-wheeled rover Curiosity was lowered to the Martian surface on three nylon tethers suspended from a hovering "sky crane" firing retro rockets.

For the next 98 weeks - the length of one Martian year - Curiosity will explore a large Martian crater that billions of years ago may have been filled with water.


The nuclear-powered rover is bristling with sophisticated technology designed to discover if the planet may once have supported life - including several cameras.

The photo shows the rover's view north. The distant ridge is the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. And no - the image wasn't made with Instagram.

The photo was in fact taken with the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager. It is blurry and indistinct because it was taken while the camera's transparent dust cover was still on.

The fall of the rover left the camera coated in material, Nasa said, and some of the landscape has been enhanced with computer imagery.

Nasa explained:

The peak seen on the left-side of the image is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) distant with a height of about 3,775 feet (1,150 meters) high. The box with arrows at the upper left indicates direction. The arrow pointing up is "up" with respect to the gravity of Mars. The arrow pointing to the right is east. North would be an arrow pointing into the image (that is, the view is toward the north).