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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.
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.”
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.’
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.
And don’t forget to “Send Your Name to Mars” aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter- details here. Deadline: July 1, 2013
Learn more about Mars, Curiosity, Opportunity, MAVEN, LADEE and NASA missions at Ken’s upcoming lecture presentations