NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover photographs its highest-resolution Red Planet panorama yet

NASA’s Curiosity rover captured the unprecedented 360 degree panorama of the desolate Martian surface. The image is made up of more than 1,000 images taken during the late November and early December last year.

The photos were then painstakingly assembled over the ensuing months.

his is the first time during the mission we’ve dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama

Curiosity’s project scientist Ashwin Vasavada

The resulting composite reportedly contains 1.8 billion pixels of Martian landscape.

The unmanned space probe’s Mast Camera, dubbed Mastcam, used its telephoto lens to produce the panorama.

Curiosity also used its medium-angle lens to produce a lower-resolution, 650-million-pixel panorama that includes the rover’s deck and robotic arm.


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Both panoramas showcase Glen Torridon, a region on the side of Mount Sharp currently being explored by Curiosity.

The vistas were captured the mission’s predominately American team were celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sitting still with little to do while awaiting the team’s return to provide its next commands, the rover had a rare window to image its surroundings from the same vantage point several days in a row.

More than six and a half hours over the four days were required for Curiosity to capture the individual shots.

Mastcam operators programmed the complex task list.

This included pointing the rover’s mast and making sure the images were in focus.

To ensure consistency in lighting, NASA confined imaging to between noon and 2pm local Mars time each day.

Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA, said: “While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feast for the eyes.


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“This is the first time during the mission we’ve dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama.”

In 2013, Curiosity produced a 1.3-billion-pixel panorama using both Mastcam cameras, with its black-and-white Navigation Cameras (Navcams), providing images of the rover itself.

Imaging specialists meticulously assemble Mars panoramas by creating mosaics composed of individual pictures and blending their edges to create a seamless look.

What is the Curiosity Rover Mars mission?

Part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, Curiosity is the largest and most capable rover ever sent to Mars.

Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars at 6.32am GMT (10.32pm PT) on August 5, 2012.

Curiosity set out to answer the ultimate question – whether Mars ever had the right environmental conditions to support microbial alien life.

Early in its mission, Curiosity’s scientific tools found chemical and mineral evidence of past habitable environments on Mars.

The NASA rover continues to explore the rock record from a time when Mars could have been home to microbial life.

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