NASA's Curiosity rover is feeding scientists with a steady stream of images, including the first one in color. The color photo shows the north wall and rim of the ancient crater where the rover made its amazing landing earlier this week, Reuters reports. The image, which appears fuzzy because the camera's dust cover was still on, proves that the Mars Hand Lens Imager, a key part of Curiosity's equipment, is in good working order. "It works. It's awesome. Can't wait to open it and see what else we can see," a mission scientist says.
The rover will be sending back many more photos in the days to come as its systems are checked out. When the checks are completed, it will begin its mission to dig into the Martian surface to search for signs of life. The photos show "a new Mars we have never seen before," says mission manager Mike Watkins "So every one of those pictures is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen." Dozens more black-and-white Martian images can be seen in a gallery on the NASA mission page. (Read more Mars stories.)