This is one of the first photos taken by the Curiosity after it landed on August 6, 2012. The photo was taken by the left “eye” of wide-angle fisheye stereo lenses on a pair of Hazard-Avoidance cameras on rover’s left-rear side.
The clear dust cover protecting the camera sprang open during landing. You can see part of the spring that released the dust cover at the bottom right, near rover’s wheel.
Part of the power supply is visible on the top left.
The saturated image is a result of the cameras’ looking directly into the sun, though the sun won’t hurt the cameras themselves.
The lines across the top are called “blooming,” a condition which occurs in the camera’s detector because of the saturation.
Full color photos are expected later this week.
John Grotzinger, project manager of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, explains the orientation of Curiosity’s rover:
“In the image, we are looking to the northwest. What you see on the horizon is the rim of Gale Crater. In the foreground you can see a gravel field.
“The question is, where does this gravel come from?
“It is the first of what will be many scientific questions to come from our new home on Mars.”
My Take: Bring on the scientific answers—we’re all ears!
Sources: NASA website Huffington Post, August 7, 2012