Curiosity Rover sends high-resolution Mars panorama

Added by on August 9, 2012

The Curiosity rover, NASA’s most advanced Mars rover, sent back this full-color, panoramic photo of its surroundings / Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Curiosity rover, NASA’s most advanced Mars rover, sent back a full-color, panoramic photo of its surroundings on Thursday.

“This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on August 5 – after the rover successfully landed on Mars.

Click for the full size panoramic photo taken by Mars Curiosity rover. Image credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The photo, stitched together from a number of smaller, 130 high-resolution photos to produce a photo of 1,200 by 1,200 pixels in size, shows the rim of the Gale crater, the rover’s landing site, in full color. Color images from the rover help scientists identify different textures or materials for the rover to study.

Curiosity on May 26, 2011 in Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Curiosity, NASA’s largest rover to date, carries 10 science instruments with weighing more than 15 times of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity combined. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

The rover was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Nov 26, 2011 – carried by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, the largest rocket used to travel to another planet. The rover successfully landed on August 5 2012.

The mission’s landing site is known as the Gale Crater. The rover travels at approximately 3m per hour and is expected to travel up to 20km from its landing site. The successful landing demonstrates NASA is capable of delivering a large, heavy payload to the surface of Mars, paving the way for a possible future mission that collects rocks and soils for return to Earth.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.