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New satellite photo shows Mars rover exploring the Red Planet

See the first colour photograph of the pale blue bot.

THIS SATELLITE PHOTO shows NASA’s Mars rover on the surface of the Red Planet just days after it landed and began its exploratory mission.

Colours have been enhanced to show subtle variations near the rover which result from different types of materials. True colours would be more grey.

Curiosity landed within Gale Crater, a portion of which is pictured here. Its ultimate goal is to go to Mount Sharp in the centre of that crater.

The image was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Another picture, looking more directly down (this is at an angle of 30 degrees) will be available within a few days, says NASA.

The Mars rover cost $2 billion and took eight years to realise. The car-sized robot will spend the next 98 weeks on a mission to search for signs of life on the Red Planet.

The Curiosity rover will continue to tweet its activities from its Twitter account – manned by employees of the Mars Science Laboratory -  which has accumulated almost one million followers since it started its journey less than a year ago.

The past few days have been used to check the robot’s systems and instruments, as well as upgrade its software. Its first drive will be carried out next week

Column: Yes, the Mars rover cost $2bn – but it’s far from a waste of money.>

Read: Ireland’s space programme: what Irish tech developments are heading out of this world>

PHOTOS: “Touchdown confirmed!” Celebrations as NASA rover lands on Mars>

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