Billion-Pixel Panorama: NASA Releases Unbelievable Curiosity Rover Image

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 20, 2013 11:22 AM EDT

mars rover
NASA has unveiled an interactive image of Mars taken with the Curiosity rover's cameras. Mount Sharp can be seen in the distance here, roughly five miles from where Curiosity currently sits. (Photo: NASA)

NASA released a billion-pixel image of Mars yesterday, arguably the most stunning image of the Martian surface to date.

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The panoramic billion-pixel image comes from the cameras of the Curiosity rover. The 360-degree clickable image is composed of 900 separate exposures, and consists of 1.3 billion pixels. 850 of the exposures came from the Curiosity rover's MastCam telephoto camera, 21 are from MastCam's wide-angle camera and 25 black and white images of the rover itself. The photos were taken between October 5 and November 16, 2012.

The billion-pixel image of Mars shows "Rocknest," the site where the Curiosity rover first dug into, and on the horizon Mount Sharp can be glimpsed. The rover will be heading to Mount Sharp sometime soon, stopping along the way if it encounters anything worth looking into.

"It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras' capabilities," said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details."

While there's no Mars rat visible in these the billion-pixel panorama, the new image has now given us Mars bird -- a rock that looks very vaguely like a bird.

Below, explore the image in its stunning detail. Or head over to NASA's Mars Exploration Page, where you can choose even more options, choosing between cylindrical or panoramic views. You can also adjust the color of the images to see both the raw colors and white balanced versions (make sure to turn on full-screen mode). There are also specific sections of the image that NASA has captioned, including one that is called "Martian Bird In Flight," which NASA says is "an anomaly for sure, but it does look like a bird in flight."

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