If you were in any doubt as to Curiosity's photography prowess, this panorama of Gale Crater should allay your concerns. In this billion-pixel photo from Mars, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory snapped nearly 900 separate images that were then stitched together to create a wonderful high-definition view from the robot's mast-mounted cameras.
View the jaw-dropping full-resolution version.
"It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras' capabilities," said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who assembled the scene. "You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details."
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The images were captured from Oct. 5 to Nov. 16, 2012, in Curiosity's work area known as "Rocknest."
NASA has published several zoomable versions of the entire panorama online, allowing armchair Mars explorers to scan and zoom in on objects of interest. Curiosity mission scientists have also ‘bookmarked' some regions of the photo mosaic - from the tiny ChemCam laser burn marks to Curiosity's ultimate goal: the foreboding Mount Sharp on the misty horizon.
The 1.3 billion pixel panorama includes images from the rover's MastCam (color) and NavCam (black and white), all posted on Curiosity's raw image archive. As the images are publicly available, many panoramas have already been created, including at least one billion-pixel version, but this is the first produced by NASA.
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To see the stunning detail of Curiosity's 1.3 billion pixel panorama, browse today's NASA/JPL release and relish in the thought that you're getting up-close and personal with the rusty, dusty surface of an alien world through the eyes of the most advanced robot ever sent to the surface of another planet.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS