It may be a terribly cold place, lacking breathable oxygen, and shrouded in deadly radiation, but Mars has an undeniable charm. A new image captured by the Curiosity rover from NASA, and colored by members of the mission team, is testament to the aesthetic brilliance of the Red Planet.
To be clear, this image is not an exactly accurate portrait of what the scene would look like through human eyes. In a release In the press, NASA describes it as an “artistic interpretation” created by members of the Curiosity mission team who were “stunned by the vast landscape.” The image is an amalgamation of two black and white photographs taken at different times of the Martian day, providing “contrasting lighting conditions that highlighted a variety of landscape details, “according to NASA.
That being said, I can’t imagine that this view, captured from the top of Mount Sharp, would be less spectacular when viewed in person. Curiosity has been climbing this mountain for the past seven years, and your view of the Martian landscape only seems to get better the higher you climb.
In fact, the rover’s current perspective has a lot to offer, including a breathtaking view of the crater rim that stretches along the horizon. Mount Sharp rises about 5.5 kilometers from the floor of Gale Crater, a 154 kilometer wide gap created by an ancient impact event. At 2.3 kilometers high, the crater rim is visible on the horizon at distances of between 30 and 40 km, according to NASA.
And just look at those rounded hills in the center on the right, or that patch of wavy sand, known as “Sands of Forvie,” seen in the center of the image. To the right of the image is Rafael Navarro Mountain, a rocky geological feature named after a member of the Curiosity team who recently passed away.
This mosaic happened in a somewhat unexpected way. Curiosity captures a 360-degree panorama every time it completes a trip, using its black-and-white navigation cameras (those glorious color images we’re used to seeing are produced by the rover’s Mastcam instrument). The images taken by navigation cameras are more useful and are captured in a compressed format to make the transfer of data to Earth less burdensome or burdensome.
But this particular sight was too special to ignore. Therefore, Curiosity was instructed to take two photos, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon, which it did on November 16, 2021. The team wanted to take advantage of the light contrast. Shades of orange, blue and green were then added, allowing the team to “depict the scene as seen at different times of the day,” according to NASA. Blue represents the morning view, orange the afternoon, and green a combination of the two.
Curiosity continues to amaze, even though it is now Mars’ veteran rover. The Perseverance NASA, with its brilliant suite of new instruments and air companion, receives the most of the attention these days, but Curiosity, who has been on Mars since 2012, it still has a lot to offer.