Saturday, August 11, 2012

MSL/Curiosity: First Hi-Res Color Mosaic!

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The above image does not do justice to the original, but maybe it will tempt you sufficiently to check out the original on the mission site of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) / Curiosity rover. This is the first high-resolution color mosaic from Curiosity, showing the geological environment around the rover's landing site in Gale Crater on Mars. The images show a landscape that closely resembles portions of the southwestern United States in its morphology, adding to the impression gained from the lower-resolution thumbnail mosaic released early in the week.

The colors in the main image are unmodified from those returned by the camera. It it is difficult to say whether this is what a human eye would see, but it is what a cell phone or camcorder would record since the Mastcam takes color pictures in the exact same manner of consumer cameras. In addition, the image page on the mission website links to a version that is modified for viewing as if the scene were on Earth and illuminated by terrestrial sunlight. That process, called "white balancing," is useful for scientists to be able to recognize and distinguish rocks by color in more familiar lighting.

This 79-image mosaic was acquired by the 34-millimeter Mastcam over about an hour of time on August 8, 2012 PDT (August 9, 2012 EDT). The full mosaic consists of 130 1,200 by 1,200 pixel full-color images, but this version includes all the images that have been returned to Earth so far. The black areas indicate images not yet returned by the rover. To see the actual mosaic, and variations thereof, visit www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/pia16051.html .

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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