National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Multimedia
Facebook Twitter YouTube Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr iTunes
Follow Us
Curiosity Leaves Its Mark
Curiosity Leaves Its Mark (click to enlarge)
 
 

Curiosity Leaves Its Mark
Date: 28 Aug 2012

This image shows a close-up of track marks from the first test drive of NASA's Curiosity rover. The rover's arm is visible in the foreground. A close inspection of the tracks reveals a unique, repeating pattern: Morse code for JPL. This pattern, visible as straight bands across the zigzag track marks, can be used as a visual reference to help the rover drive accurately.

Curiosity's "visual odometry" software measures terrain features -- such as rocks, rock shadows and patterns in the rover tracks -- to determine the precise distance between drive steps. Knowing how far it has traveled is important for measuring any wheel slippage that may have occurred, for instance due to high slopes or sandy ground. Fine-grained terrains generally lack interesting features, so Curiosity can make its own features using its wheel tracks.

The Morse code, imprinted on all six wheels, is: .--- (J), .--. (P), and .-.. (L). JPL is short for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the rover was built and the mission is managed.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 29 Aug 2012