The NASA’s Mars Rover, Curiosity, has successfully touched down on Mars on Sunday (Aug. 5 PDT), and has already sent back black-and-white and color images of the Martian landscape and a self-portrait to the Earth. Curiosity has captured a magnificent ‘postcard’ from the Red Planet — a 360 degree color view that offers a glimpse of the rover’s colorful and diverse surroundings. In a news briefing on August 9, Thursday, NASA released Curiosity’s first color panorama view – one in color and one in black-n-white.
This is the first 360 degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover. This images were taken on late August 8 PDT (Aug. 9 EDT) in the late Martian afternoon. The color panorama is made up of 130 low-resolution (144 x 144 pixels each) thumbnail images taken by the 34 millimeter Mast Camera of Curiosity. In fact, Curiosity’s panoramic photo is just the beginning of the rover’s visual documentation of Mars.
NASA has also released a black-n-white panoramic view of Curiosity, standing on the Martian ground. Eight shots were used to create the panoramic picture using the rover’s twin navigation cameras (Navcam) which are used to capture 3D images. The panoramic view shows Curiosity’s own shadow reflected on the Martian surface, with a dark band of rocks in the distance. Grey-coloured dust streaks can be seen in the foreground of the shot from where the rocket engines of the rover’s descent apparatus impacted the ground during landing.
Dawn Sumner, a NASA scientist working on the Mars mission, at a news conference on Thursday said, “You see these beautiful layered knolls, those knolls are recording the history of Gale crater.”
Scientists have become excited by seeing these panoramic scenes and started taking a closer look at several splotches in the foreground that appear gray because it revealed two nearby scorch marks in the Martian surface. The marks were created by the rocket-powered sky crane that lowered Curiosity to the Gale Crater floor.