The surface of Mars like you’ve never seen before. Watch the amazing 1.8 billion-pixel panorama of 1,200 images captured by NASA Curiosity rover after 9 years on the Red planet
Yesterday, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory achieved engineering a feat by the landing of Perseverance rover on Mars after 203 days and 300 million miles journey. The Perseverance rover, along with its helicopter sidekick Ingenuity, has been traveling to Mars since summer last year. As part of the mission, Perseverance will collect rock core samples and save them for possible future study by scientists.
As NASA celebrated the landing of the Perseverance rover, many may be wondering about the status of the Curiosity, a car-sized Mars rover launched on November 26, 2011, before landing on Mars on August 6, 2012.
According to NASA, the Curiosity rover is still operational, and as of February 19, 2021, it has been on Mars for 3036 sols (3119 Earth days or 9 about years). Since its landing, Curiosity has been sending vital information back to NASA to improve our understanding of ancient Martian habitable environments.
Ever since its launch nine years, the Curiosity rover has captured its highest-resolution panorama yet of the Martian surface. Composed of more than 1,000 images and carefully assembled over the ensuing months, the larger version of this composite contains nearly 1.8 billion pixels of Martian landscape.
We don’t always appreciate how mind-blowing the Red Planet is until we see it up close. The NASA Curiosity rover has been exploring the Gale crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission since launched on November 26, 2011, from Cape Canaveral. After a 350 million miles journey, the rover eventually touched down on the Red Planet. Millions of miles away in space, we’re looking at the surface of a planet people only managed to peek at a few hundred years ago.
The panorama showcases “Glen Torridon,” a region on the side of Mount Sharp that Curiosity is exploring. The panorama was taken between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2019, when the Curiosity team was out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Since the rover would be sitting still with few other tasks to do while it waited for the team to return and provide its next commands, the rover had a rare chance to imagine its surroundings several days in a row without moving.
In the video below, NASA Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada guides us through a tour of the rover’s view of the Martian surface. To go along with the stunning 1.8-billion-pixel image, this new video offers a sweeping view of the Red Planet.