NASA's Curiosity rover has snapped its largest and highest-resolution panorama ever, which features an astonishing 1.8 billion pixel view of Glen Torridon-- a region on the flanks of Mars' Mount Sharp.
The stunning image is a composite of more than 1 000 images that the rover captured between November 24, 2019, and December 1 as the rover team was taking a Thanksgiving break.
"While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feast for the eyes," Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said in a statement on March 4.
"This is the first time during the mission we've dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama."
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Curiosity captured the panorama's images using the telephoto lens on its Mast Camera (Mastcam), which relied on its medium-angle lens to generate a lower-resolution, roughly 650-million pixel landscape that includes the rover's robotic arm and deck.
Matscam operators programmed the complex task list in advance, including pointing the rover's mast and ensuring the photos were in the focal point. Imaging was done between noon to 14:00 local Mars time to get consistent lighting.
Showcased on the images is the Glen Torridon region on the side of Mount Sharp which the rover has been exploring. According to JPL, it required more than six hours over the four days for the rover to snap individual shots.
In 2013, Curiosity also generated a panorama featuring 1.3 billion pixels with both Mastcam cameras, while its Navigation Cameras (Navcam) took images of the rover itself.
In 2014, Curiosity arrived at the base of Mount Sharp and it has been venturing into the foothills since then, examining the rocks for hints about the red planet's transformation from warm and humid to cold and deserted.
Get the full experience of the highest-resolution panorama shots here.
Featured image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS