Great news keep coming from the red planet: Curiosity has opened her eyes for the first time. She took a good look around and decided that life was good on Mars — albeit a bit lonely. Updated with panoramas.
The navigation cameras — the eyes that will guide her around Mars — have been activated, and they're beaming perfect images down to Earth. The left camera may have had a problem at the beginning at first — the image was dark and had a weird white artefact. It actually looked like she was slowly opening her eyelids.
The right camera didn't have the same problem and was sending perfect images from the moment it was turned on.
I can imagine someone at mission control singing "Oh You Pretty Things!" in his or her head. "Wake up, you sleepy head, put on some clothes, shake up your bed..."
The first two images sent by the left navcam — on the left — was black and had a weird artefact. The rest of the pictures are fine.
Both navigation cameras are operational now.
Update: The ongoing press conference is revealing some good bits of information. JPL has received the first high-resolution video frames of the descent, taken by the MARDI camera. The final video is going to look fantastic.
MARDI has also taken images of the ground under the rover:
They have also created new low-resolution panoramas made from the thumbnails obtained by the navcams. We will have the first high-definition panorama of Curiosity's surroundings in a day or two, but this looks so good already:
Here's a preview of what the panorama will look like when done. It's made partially with low-resolution images:
Even more spectacular is the spherical projection of the panorama, showing Curiosity in full:
The team is pointing out that this looks very Earth-like. An image that could have been taken at the Mojave Desert.
The photos also reveal surface areas that have been excavated by the thrusters of the sky crane. This is a bonus, as we can see things without even having to start scooping material. NASA's scientists say that they can see bedrock under the gravel.