Space

NASA's Curiosity rover captures most detailed panorama of Mars yet

NASA's Curiosity rover capture...
A 1.8-billion-pixel panorama of Mars, the most detailed ever captured by NASA's Curiosity rover
A 1.8-billion-pixel panorama of Mars, the most detailed ever captured by NASA's Curiosity rover
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A 1.8-billion-pixel panorama of Mars, the most detailed ever captured by NASA's Curiosity rover
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A 1.8-billion-pixel panorama of Mars, the most detailed ever captured by NASA's Curiosity rover
Curiosity used its medium-angle lens to build a lower-resolution panorama of almost 650 million pixels, capturing its deck and robotic arm
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Curiosity used its medium-angle lens to build a lower-resolution panorama of almost 650 million pixels, capturing its deck and robotic arm

NASA has used Curiosity's cameras to capture many images of Mars since touching down on the Red Planet seven years ago, but none quite as detailed as this. Its latest panorama of Mars is the highest-resolution version that NASA has ever put together, showing the rugged Martian landscape through a grand total of 1.8 billion pixels.

The newly stitched together panorama shows the Glen Torridon region of Mount Sharp, the centerpiece of the Gale crater where Curiosity touched down in August of 2012. The rover has used its onboard cameras to snap many pictures of its surroundings as it roams the landscape, including detailed images of Mars' stunning Murray Buttes, 360-degree panoramas and a number of selfies.

In 2013, NASA wowed us with a panoramic image stitched together from 896 photos and 1.3 billion pixels, showing the Rocknest region where Curiosity picked up its first samples of Martian soil. The newly compiled panorama outstrips this by some margin, with the 1.8 billion pixels taken from more than 1,000 images.

A 1.8-billion-pixel panorama of Mars, the most detailed ever captured by NASA's Curiosity rover
A 1.8-billion-pixel panorama of Mars, the most detailed ever captured by NASA's Curiosity rover

These were collected over a period of four days, using only a midday-to-2pm window (Martian time) to make sure the lighting was consistent. These were taken with the rover's telephoto lens, while another medium-angle lens was used to build a lower-resolution panorama of almost 650 million pixels that captures the rover's deck and robotic arm, seen below.

Curiosity used its medium-angle lens to build a lower-resolution panorama of almost 650 million pixels, capturing its deck and robotic arm
Curiosity used its medium-angle lens to build a lower-resolution panorama of almost 650 million pixels, capturing its deck and robotic arm

"While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feast for the eyes," said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "This is the first time during the mission we've dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama."

You can hear more from Vasavada in the video below.

Curiosity Mars Rover Snaps 1.8 Billion-Pixel Panorama (narrated video)

Source: NASA

2 comments
BlueOak
Cool stuff - especially that narrated video. Who would have thought, 7 years after landing and we're still getting incredibly remote info like this.
Bob Munck
I did some work with Tim Mutch at Brown when he was PI of the Viking imaging system. Some of my code is now sitting in the two landers on Mars. The cameras consisted of 12 photodetectors and a rotating mirror that scanned them to produce an image 512 pixels high and 9150 wide, a 300° panorama.

Tim was lost while climbing in the Himalayas in 1980. I can only imagine what he would have thought about this magnificent image just 40 years later.

I remember him talking about coming out of JPL early one morning after a night of tending one of the landers, looking up at the sky and thinking "Oh, right. I'm back on Earth."