Gale Crater Panorama
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover delivers its first 360-degree color, horizon-to-horizon panorama of the Gale Crater landing site. The image was made from low-resolution thumbnail images taken by Curiosity's color Mast Camera (Mastcam).
The images were taken late Aug. 8 PDT (Aug. 9 EDT). 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.
"After a year in cold storage, where it endured the rigors of launch, the deep space cruise to Mars and everything that went on during landing, it is great to see our camera is working as planned," said Mike Malin, principal investigator of the Mastcam instrument from Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. "As engaging as this color panorama is, it is important to note this is only one-eighth the potential resolution of images from this camera."
The Curiosity team also continued to downlink high-resolution black-and-white images from its Navigation Camera (Navcam). These individual images have been stitched together to provide a high-resolution Navcam panorama, including a glimpse of the rover's deck. Evident on some portions of the deck are some small Martian pebbles.
"The latest Navcam images show us the rocket engines on our descent stage kicked up some material from the surface of Mars, several pieces which ended up on our rover's deck," said Mike Watkins, mission manager for Curiosity from JPL. "These small pebbles we currently see are up to about 0.4 inches [one centimeter] in size and should pose no problems for mission operations. It will be interesting to see how long our hitchhikers stick around."
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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS