If news from Earth has got you down, maybe this update from the Red Planet will take your mind off things. NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has produced an incredible 1.8-billion-pixel image of the surface of Mars.
The image above doesn’t nearly do it justice, so be sure to watch the video below. You can also use this NASA webpage to explore the panorama in detail.
Curiosity took more than 1,000 images of its surroundings late last year, and scientists have spent the past few months stitching them together. The image shows the side of Mars’s Mount Sharp, in a region called Glen Torridon. NASA also provided a second image that included Curiosity itself.
The rover was sitting without commands during this time period, as the Curiosity team was away for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a NASA press release. The operators of the camera still had to program the tasks in order to ensure the images were in focus and the lighting was the same each time. All in all, it amounted to a combined 6.5 hours observation time over the course of four days.
If this has you craving more, Curiosity took a 1.3-billion-pixel image of the Martian surface back in 2013.
NASA launched the Curiosity rover to Mars in November 2011, and it arrived in August 2012. The car-sized rover has since allowed researchers to study the planet’s climate and surface and investigate whether the Gale crater ever had the conditions for life. Curiosity has helped shape our modern picture of Mars,as it has detected mysteriously fluctuating oxygen levels, methane spikes, and organic compounds. It’s travelled over 13 miles across the Martian surface and overcome glitches as well as intense dust storms.
Other rovers are soon to arrive. NASA will be launching a new rover in July 2020 and will be announcing the name of that rover today.
So, chill out, and imagine yourself far from Earth’s troubles, surrounded by red dust. You’d have a chaotic new set of troubles to think about on Mars, of course, but let’s forget about that for a moment.
Featured image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS