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Amazed by the sprawling landscape, NASA’s Curiosity rover mission team has created an artistic rendering of the robotic car’s landscape atop a Martian mountain.
The image was taken from its most recent location on the slope of Mount Sharp on Mars. The mission team was so “inspired by the beauty of the landscape” that they combined two copies of black-and-white images from different times of the day and added color to create a rare postcard of the red planet, according to NASA.
Curiosity captures a 360-degree view of your surroundings using black and white navigation cameras every time you complete a journey. To make it easier to send the resulting panorama to Earth, the rover maintains it in a low-quality compressed format. But when the probe team saw the view from Curiosity’s latest stopping point, the scene was too beautiful to capture in the best possible quality for navigational cameras, the space agency explained in a statement.
Many of the rover’s most impressive panoramas are from the color Mastcam, which has a much higher resolution than navigation cameras. That’s why the team added their own colors to this last photo. The blue, orange, and green tints are not what the human eye sees; Instead, they represent the scene seen at different times of the day.
On November 16, 2021, engineers ordered Curiosity to take two sets of mosaics, or composite images, and capture the scene at 8.30am and again at 4.10pm local Mars time. Today’s two hours presented contrasting lighting conditions that revealed a variety of landscape details. The team then combined the two scenes into an artistic recreation that includes elements of the morning scene in blue, the evening scene in orange, and a mixture of the two in green.
In the center of the image is a view of Mount Sharp, the 5,000-meter mountain that Curiosity has been climbing since 2014. The rolling hills can be seen from a distance in the right of center; Curiosity got a closer look at them in July, when the rover began to see interesting changes in the landscape. The wave field known as the “Furfi Sands” extends from 400 to 800 metres.
To the far right of the panorama is the rugged Mount Rafael Navarro, named after the Curiosity team scientist who passed away earlier this year. Looming behind him is the summit of Mount Sharp, high above the area that Curiosity is exploring. Mount Sharp lies within Gale Crater, a 154-kilometre-wide basin formed by ancient impact; The far edge of Gale Crater is 2,300 meters high and can be seen on the horizon for about 30 to 40 kilometers.
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