NASA has released new pictures of the InSight lander and the Curiosity rover taken from the HiRISE camera onboard — it’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. NASA says the pictures were taken on September 23, 2019, at an altitude of 169 miles (272 kilometers) above the surface.
The image shows two circular solar panels on either side of the lander body that span 20 feet or 6 meters from end-to-end. “The bright spot on the lower side of the spacecraft is the dome-shaped protective cover over InSight’s seismometer,” NASA explains.
There is also a dark halo visible in the picture that surrounds the spacecraft. NASA says that the halo resulted from retrorocket thrusters scouring the surface during landing when dust devils created the dark streaks that run diagonally across the surface.
NASA says that it is the best view yet of InSight from space and that’s because there’s less dust in the air at the time and shadows are offset from the lander because this is an oblique view looking west.
“The lighting was also optimal for avoiding the bright reflections from the lander or its solar panels that have obscured surrounding pixels in other images,” NASA said in a statement.
The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been monitoring InSight’s landing site in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars. It has been tracking the changes to the surface, such as dust-devil tracks. The HiRISE has also been keeping tabs on NASA’s Curiosity, which is roughly 373 miles (600 kilometers) from InSight, exploring a region called “the clay-bearing unit.”