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This 1.8 billion pixel panorama of Mars is made up of 1,200 individual pictures

This 1.8 billion pixel panorama of Mars is made up of 1,200 individual pictures

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) captured its largest and highest-resolution picture of the Mars landscape to date.
  • The image was created by stitching over 1,200 pictures taken by the Mars Curiosity rover over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2019.
  • Zooming into the picture, you can see the Vera Rubin Ridge, Slagpos carter and other defining landscapes in the background.
In the largest and highest-resolution panorama of the Martian Surface to date, the Mars Curiosity rover captured a 1.8 billion pixel image of the red planet. The image features Glen Torridon, a region on the side of Mount Sharp that Curiosity is currently exploring.

It’s a clay-bearing region that used to be home to lakes and streams billions of years ago. Now, Curiosity is looking for more clues in the rocks and soil.

If you zoom into the image, you can see other features of the Mars landscape in the background — like the Slagpos crater just inside Gale crater’s rim which is around 4.8 kilometres wide and the Greenheug Pediment, which is a vast sheet of rock covering the side of a mountain. You can also spot the Vera Rubin Ridge,Central Butte, and Upper Mount Sharp.

In order to produce the massive landscape, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) stitched over 1,200 images together. They were taken while the mission team was on Thanksgiving break last year, from November 24 to December 1.

The pictures for the main panorama were taken using the primary telephoto on the rover’s Mast Camera. The lens is too close to the body to capture the rover as well.

However, the camera’s medium-angle lens created a second 650 million pixel panorama that includes the rover’s deck and robotic arm.

Limited window of time
During the four days of Thanksgiving, Curiosity needed more than six and a half hours to capture individual shots but to keep lighting consistent, it could only operate between noon to 2:00 pm local Mars time.

In order to make sure that the images were in focus and that the camera was pointed the right way, the Mastcam operators had to program a number of complex tasks.

“While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feat for the eyes,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This isn’t the first visual marvel produced by Curiosity. In 2013, it produced another panorama of 1.3 billion pixels using both Mastcams.

See also:
NASA detects a quake on Mars for the very first time — using sound

Space race heads to Mars — Four missions plan to explore Earth's closest neighbour in July this year

There’s a Pac-Man-shaped crater on Mars


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