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Spectacular Billion Pixel Panorama from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover

This is a cropped, reduced version of panorama from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version.  See full panorama below. It shows Curiosity at the "Rocknest" site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012. Viewers can explore this image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This is a cropped, reduced version of panorama from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version. See full panorama below. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012. Viewers can explore this image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Updated with link to interactive Gigapan version

NASA’s newly produced and absolutely spectacular panorama from the Curiosity mega rover offers armchair explorers back on Earth a mammoth 1.3 billion pixels worth of Mars in all its colorful glory.

And everyone can move back and forth around the interactive panorama and zoom in – with special embedded tools- to your hearts delight in exquisite detail at the ‘Rocknest’ site where the rover spent her first extended science stay in late 2012.

This extra special Rocknest panorama is the first NASA- produced view comprising more than a billion pixels from the surface of the Red Planet.

It offers a full 360 degree panoramic view around the rover encompassing breathtaking vistas of Mount Sharp and the eerie rim of Gale Crater, some 20 miles distant.

Mount Sharp rises 3.4 miles (5.5 km) high and is the target destination. The team hopes Curiosity will arrive at the base of Mount Sharp perhaps late this year or early in 2014.

The ‘Rocknest’ scene was assembled from nearly 900 raw images snapped by three different cameras among the 17 total that Curiosity uses as she trundles across the crater floor in search of the ingredients of life.

Billion-Pixel View From Curiosity at Rocknest, Raw Color.  This full-circle, reduced view combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, generating a panorama with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version. The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the "Rocknest" site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Billion-Pixel View From Curiosity at Rocknest, Raw Color. This full-circle, reduced view combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, generating a panorama with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version. The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The panorama was created by Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif, where the mission is managed on a daily basis.

“It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras’ capabilities,” said Deen in a statement. “You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.”

Check here for the full, billion pixel interactive cylindrical and panoramic viewers

Download the full image -here.

“Rocknest” was a windblown ripple of sand dunes that Curiosity drove to after departing from the touchdown site at ‘Bradbury Landing’ and thoroughly investigated in October and November 2012.

It was at ‘Rocknest’ where the six wheeled rover famously deployed her robotic arm to scoop into the Martian dirt for the very first time and then delivered those first grains to the duo of analytical chemistry labs inside her belly that lie at the heart of Curiosity’s science mission.

Deen assembled the color product using 850 raw images from the 100 mm telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 more from the Mastcam’s wider-angle 34 mm camera.

In order to take in the rover itself, the view also included 25 black-and-white raw images from the Navigation Camera on the Mast.

All the images were taken between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012 while the rover was stationary at Rocknest.

Link to the interactive GigaPan version – here

And check this link to a new NASA JPL Curiosity gallery on the GigaPan website – here

Because the images were captured over many days and at different times of day, the lighting and atmospheric clarity varies – especially in distant views to the crater rim.

Since landing on August 6, 2012, Curiosity has already accomplished her primary goal of finding a habitable zone at Gale Crater with an environment that could once of supported Martian microbial life – at the current worksite at ‘Yellowknife Bay.’

Time lapse context view of Curiosity maneuvering her robotic arm to conduct close- up examination of windblown ‘Rocknest’ ripple site.  Curiosity inspects “bootlike” wheel scuff mark with the APXS (Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer) and MAHLI (Mars Hand Lens Imager) instruments positioned on the rotatable turret at the arm’s terminus. Mosaic stitched from Navcam images on Sols 57 & 58 shows the arm in action just prior to 1st sample scooping here. Eroded rim of Gale Crater rim is visible on the horizon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer (kenkremer.com)/Marco Di Lorenzo

Time lapse context view of Curiosity maneuvering her robotic arm to conduct close- up examination of windblown ‘Rocknest’ ripple site. Curiosity inspects “bootlike” wheel scuff mark with the APXS (Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer) and MAHLI (Mars Hand Lens Imager) instruments positioned on the rotatable turret at the arm’s terminus. Mosaic stitched from Navcam images on Sols 57 & 58 shows the arm in action just prior to 1st sample scooping here. Eroded rim of Gale Crater rim is visible on the horizon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer (kenkremer.com)/Marco Di Lorenzo

The 1 ton robot is equipped with 10 state-of-the-art science instruments with research capabilities that far surpass any prior landed mission and is in the middle of the 2-year primary mission to the Red Planet.

Meanwhile, Curiosity’s older sister rover Opportunity has also discovered clay minerals and a habitable zone on the opposite side of the Red Planet – details here.

And don’t forget to “Send Your Name to Mars” aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter- details here. Deadline: July 1, 2013

Ken Kremer

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Learn more about Mars, Curiosity, Opportunity, MAVEN, LADEE and NASA missions at Ken’s upcoming lecture presentations

June 23: “Send your Name to Mars on MAVEN” and “CIBER Astro Sat, LADEE Lunar & Antares Rocket Launches from Virginia”; Rodeway Inn, Chincoteague, VA, 8 PM

Curiosity scooped 5 times into Martian soil at Rocknest windblown ripple and delivered samples to the SAM chemistry instrument for analysis. This color mosaic was stitched together from hi-res color images taken by the robots 34 mm Mastcam camera on Sols 93 and 74. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech /MSSS/Ken Kremer (kenkremer.com)/Marco Di Lorenzo

Curiosity scooped 5 times into Martian soil at Rocknest windblown ripple and delivered samples to the SAM chemistry instrument for analysis. This color mosaic was stitched together from hi-res color images taken by the robots 34 mm Mastcam camera on Sols 93 and 74. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech /MSSS/Ken Kremer (kenkremer.com)/Marco Di Lorenzo

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joseph A. Nagy, Jr June 20, 2013, 2:02 AM

    Is there a downloadable version of the image?

    • Ken Kremer June 20, 2013, 2:08 AM
      • Joseph A. Nagy, Jr June 20, 2013, 2:18 AM

        Thank you!

    • Planemo June 20, 2013, 4:09 AM

      Yes, you can go to NASA.com…the main home site. From there you’ll be able to hook-up w/links. That is how I do it anyways. :-) ;-)

  • Yepi Friv June 20, 2013, 2:15 AM

    It is so amazing. I like it so much

  • Torbjörn Larsson June 20, 2013, 12:39 PM

    OT, but these news may interest martian connoseurs:

    Martian astrobiology just got a lot harder, as Mars may had an oxygen atmosphere before 3.7 billion years ago.

    “‘What we have shown is that both meteorites and surface volcanic rocks are consistent with similar origins in the deep interior of Mars but that the surface rocks come from a more oxygen-rich environment, probably caused by recycling of oxygen-rich materials into the interior,’ said Professor Bernard Wood, of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, who led the research reported in this week’s Nature.”

    Whether the high oxygen fugacity involved necessitates an oxygenated atmosphere seems arguable. (I have already seen a self proclaimed planetary scientist in the comment fields at Guardian call it “clutching at straws”.)

    This is not necessarily the bad news for early Mars habitability it at first blush looks as, knowing that oxygen quenches organic production and destroys organics.

    Oxygen liberation would have been a gradual process, and if sufficiently complex cells had arose early they could, as they did here much later, eventually evolve to handle the poison.

    Even if not, our own early life were homologous to alkaline hydrothermal vent chemistry in their metabolism, and such environments when situated in deep seas can be low in oxygen. Some predictions make an early northern Mars ocean with hundreds of meters of water depth.

    All in all it is too early to tell if this is a stumble block for a martian biosphere. It could be a stumble block for astrobiology, since now indications of early oxygen would likely be predicted solely from crustal recycling.

  • bfmorris June 20, 2013, 4:44 PM

    Just daydreaming about the great meteorite hunting grounds in this photo. How cool would that be.

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