The Mars Curiosity rover made a flawless Mars wheels-down landing on Aug. 6, 2012 at 5:17 GMT, with all systems "go" for a nominal two-year mission exploring Gale Crater for evidence of past habitable environments on Mars.
In addition to its formidable array of scientific instruments for chemical and minerological analysis, Curiosity can take pictures with any of 17 different cameras at its disposal. Realistically, 6 of the cameras are backups and have not been used four months now into the mission as of this writing, so effectively 11 cameras are actively used.
The cameras are:2 MASTCAM: left and right, high resolution 1638x1200 color, FOV 20.25° (left) and 7.04° (right)
NASA/JPL provides raw images from Curiosity at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl. This web site is not affiliated with JPL or NASA--it just provides a convenient method of accessing the images and viewing the latest Mars photos downloaded from the rover. In addition, there are several features available only on this web site, such as sorting capabilities, mapping the location of the images, camera pointing information, etc.
The default view of the browser is to show all the latest images in the order that they were released by NASA. The time between when an image was actually taken to when it was released can range from under an hour to several weeks, depending on how the image is prioritized by the MSL team.
Menu selections allow different filtering based on the size of the image (where "large" is any image with width >= 512 pixels), by sol number, sort direction, camera, etc. The thumbnail size and timezone selections are remembered between sessions, all others revert to their defaults. This ensures that the "what's new" view will always be the default.
Another cookie used by the website keeps track of when your last visit was to the site, so that new images (downloaded since your last visit) can be flagged with an icon:
The sol number selection list is based on which sols actually have images available based on the current camera selections. If the camera selections are changed, the sol list will in general change & so the selection reverts to 'all.'
When available, pointing info for the cameras is given in topocentric latitudinal coordinates (azimuth and elevation), the information coming from the NASA/NAIF service. Azimuth is reckoned clockwise with 0° being due north. When pointing information is available, a link to a "map it" page is given which will bring up a side-by-side view of a map of the camera position and orientation next to the image in question. The field of view is marked by a wedge. Note that the actual range of the image will depend on topography and the elevation angle of the camera.
Several buttons are available to get further information to interpret the images, including:Where is Curiosity? A map of Curiosity's track to date
Have fun browsing and analyzing the latest pictures from the Mars Curiosity rover!
Joe Knapp CuriosityMSL@gmail.com