Space

NASA’s Curiosity rover captures breathtaking photos of Mars, scientists create stunning panoramic images

NASA’s Curiosity team has released some breathtaking images of Mars’ rocky and dusty surface taken by the Mars rover. The Curiosity team members combined the individual photos captured by the Curiosity rover’s Mast Camera and created a panorama that overlooks many sites visited by the rover throughout its journey so far. The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in 2012, and since then it has been moving in Gale crater to crack the mysteries of the Red Planet.

The latest panorama image released by Curiosity team was taken by MastCam on the northern flank of Mount Sharp in October 2017. The rover is currently climbing the Vera Rubin Bridge situated in Gale Crater. On January 22, the Curiosity team received the images through NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter. The panorama consists of a mind-blowing vista of many Martian areas that the Curiosity visited and studied, since its arrival on Gale Carter. One can see distant mountains beyond the crater through the panorama. The crater’s north rim, which rises about 2 km could be seen in the panorama and also the picture covers most of the 18 km journey that Curiosity has managed to cover so far. Another panorama image including the names of the locations Curiosity visited was also released by the team.

MastCam captured the picture while pausing on its journey at Vera Rubin Bridge. The image was taken just before the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice of the Red Planet. One can clearly see different sites of Mars in the panorama as the picture was clicked while Curiosity was in a climbing position at a certain height above the landing site. The images include sites that might have harbored water during the Initial phase of Mars. A region named Yellowknife May was found to be having the potential to support life as chemicals needed by microbial life were discovered in that region.

Towards North, there is an area named ‘Peace Vallis’ where Curiosity found evidence of an ancient stream that might have brought water and sediments into Gale Crater almost three billion years ago. For taking the pictures, the Mastcam used its left eye (34-millimeter lens camera to capture a wide view) and the right eye (100-millimeter lens camera to get a narrow, more detailed picture). Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California said that although Curiosity has been steadily climbing for five years, this is the first time one could look back and see the whole mission laid out below.

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