The Curiosity rover was finally able to remove its dust cover so it could produce the best quality image we've seen so far of the landscape on Mars.
Now, don't get too excited. There isn't any water here, or aliens. Unfortunately. Maybe some day. It's still early in the mission. (Hi, aliens!) But because the weather finally calmed down and the dust settled (literally), Curiosity was able to remove its protective lens to produce this photo:
The reclosable dust cover on Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was opened for the first time during the 33rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 8, 2012), enabling MAHLI to take this image.
The level of detail apparent in the image shows that haziness in earlier MAHLI images since landing was due to dust that had settled on the dust cover during the landing.
Look at all those rocks in high-res, man.
Elsewhere, the Curiosity drivers just got profiled for the New York Times. They live mostly normal lives. Apparently being an office astronaut isn't as cool as you think. "Last night I drove on Mars, today I mowed the lawn — it’s completely surreal," one driver told the Times. Some of them are more humble than others. "I don’t think there’s anything all that interesting about me," said Bobak Ferdowsi, aka Mohawk Guy, easily the most famous of the crew. Some of them can be jerks at dinner parties, though. "What do you do? Oh, you’re an investment banker? Isn’t that special, I drive on Mars," said another team member, referring to how he behaves socially. Listen, the Mars project is really cool, and you guys are doing great stuff, but no one likes a jerk. Stop that. You don't need to throw it in our faces that we all didn't grow up to work at NASA like Mr. Spaceman over here. Also, they totally got Curiosity to sniff raw, martian air. No word yet on what kind of chemical imbalance it caused.