Thursday, August 09, 2012

MSL/Curiosity: First Color 360!

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

More pretty pictures! Here we have the first 360-degree color panorama of the Gale Crater landing site, taken by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) / Curiosity rover. The panorama was made from image thumbnails.All were taken late August 8th PDT (early August 9th EDT) by Curiosity's 34-millimeter Mast Camera. This panorama mosaic was made of 130 images of 144 by 144 pixels each. Selected full frames from this panorama, which are 1,200 by 1,200 pixels each, are expected to be transmitted to Earth later. The images in this panorama were brightened in the processing. Mars only receives half the sunlight Earth does and this image was taken in the late Martian afternoon.

In the center of the panorama is the rise of "Mount Sharp" (Aeolis Mons). On the left and the right can be seen the northern wall of Gale Crater.

MSL mission scientists will be taking a closer look at several splotches in the foreground that appear gray. These areas show the effects of the descent stage's rocket engines blasting away the Marian topsoil. What appeared as a dark strip of dunes in previous, black-and-white pictures from Curiosity can also be seen along the top of this mosaic, but the color images also reveal additional shades of reddish brown around the dunes, likely indicating different textures or materials.

The Mars Science Laboratory / Curiosity rover mission is managed for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C., by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (Caltech). More information about Curiosity is online at www.nasa.gov/msl and mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . You can follow the mission on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

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