More than 1,000 images were snapped by NASA's Curiosity rover between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2019

By Joelle Goldstein
March 06, 2020 02:25 PM
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NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA is giving the world its best view of Mars yet.

The space agency recently released its highest-resolution panorama images of the Red Planet’s surface, snapped by NASA’s Curiosity rover over the Thanksgiving break, between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2019.

More than 1,000 photos, including an incredible 1.8-billion-pixel image, and a video were taken on Mars over the course of four days, showing the desolate and rocky area that the rover explored, NASA announced in a press release.

“While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feast for the eyes,” Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which leads the Curiosity rover mission, said in the release.

“This is the first time during the mission we’ve dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama,” Vasavada added.

Mars

NASA said it was able to capture these stunning panorama images, which can be zoomed in, using the rover’s telephoto lens on its Mast Camera, or Mastcam.

To include the rover’s deck and robotic arm in one of the lower-resolution shots, the space agency said it used a medium-angle lens with a nearly 650-million-pixel panorama.

The panoramas also feature a clear view of Glen Torridon, a region on the side of Mars’ Mount Sharp that rises about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the base of Gale Crater, which the Curiosity rover has been climbing since 2014, according to NASA.

Scientists spent more than six and a half hours over the four days to capture the pre-programmed images.

They also limited the photography time between the hours of noon and 2 p.m. local Mars time each day to ensure consistent lighting, according to the release.

The new snapshots come seven years after NASA’s Curiosity captured a 1.3-billion-pixel panorama using Mastcam and its black-and-white Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, in 2013, NASA said.

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The rover initially landed inside Mars’ Gale Crater in August 2012, according to Space.com.

During that $2.5 billion mission — in which the Curiosity was determining whether Mars’ atmosphere could allow for microbial life to survive — the rover found evidence that Gale once hosted a continual lake-and-stream system that was habitable, the outlet reported.