Jut after I pressed my most recent update on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, NASA JPL release the first low-resolution colour panoramic view of Gale Crater captures by Curiosity’s Mastcam.
The images were captured by the Mastcam system’s 34 mm fixed focal length camera mounted towards the top of the rover’s remote sensing mast (it is the Mastcam camera on the left of this image).
The mosaic is made up of 130 images each compressed into a 144×144 pixel format for transmission to Earth. The complete set of images has been brightened in the processing as Mars only receives half the sunlight Earth does, and these images were captured in the late Martian afternoon. The black areas denote areas outside the view of the Mastcam. The grey patches on the ground to the left and right of the rover are the result of the blast from the descent stage’s radial motors striking the ground and blowing away the topsoil, and these are already the subject of study by the science team on the mission.
The dunes on the horizon are also visible in the black-and-white panoramic view captured by Curiosity’s Navcam on Sol 2, but in this image they reveal some interesting hues that suggest they are comprised of different materials or textures.
Selected high-resolution (1200×1200 pixel) images from the panorama are expected to be returned to Earth later.
Image credit: NASA / Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS)