During its 10 months on the red planet, Mars rover Curiosity has taken hundreds of high-quality photographs of the Martian landscape. Now, NASA has released a photo of Mars sporting over 1 billion pixels.
The panorama is pieced together from almost 900 different photographs taken by cameras on Curiosity. The complete image is 1.3 billion pixels in size and can be viewed in multiple ways on NASA’s Mars Exploration Program website.
The photos show a patch of Mars named “Rocknest,” where Curiosity took its first scoop of Martian soil in October 2012. The mountain seen in the distance is Mount Sharp, the current long-term destination for the rover.
“It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras’ capabilities,” said Bob Deen, a researcher with the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.”
The photos that comprise the panorama were primarily taken using Curiosity’s Mast Camera, with further images coming from the Mastcam’s wide-angle camera. The photos were taken over the course of several Martian days, explaining the inconsistent illumination and shadows seen in different parts of the image.
Curiosity is currently preparing to shift into a distance-driving mode, and will soon be heading five miles to an area at the base of Mount Sharp.