Curiosity: Sol 3: first colour panoramic image

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).

First colour panoramic view of Gale Crater from Curiosity’s Mastcam

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.

A closer view of one of the blast areas resulting from the MSL’s descent stage motor thrust

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)

MSL coverage in this blog

4 thoughts on “Curiosity: Sol 3: first colour panoramic image

  1. I’m not up on science and rockets and stuff, but wow, this is just too amazing to consider. i wonder if young kids “get it.” I mean, these photos are nothing compared to what they’ve already seen in the movies. Even when the US when to the Moon, that was unbelievable for the people of that era but today it looks silly when compared to the massive high graphic animations of Star Trek, Star Wars, Matrix, Total Recall… I’m just spewing names here but you get what I mean. I know this is real but do young kids or teenagers really get it?


    1. I’ll answer here since you originally asked here :).

      Kids really do get it – sometimes moreso than adults – and it is something that crosses the gender divide. I’ve witnessed kids really come alive at talks and presentations Dad have given in schools, where the response has not only been positive, the kids have often posed insight questions and suggested novel means of approaching problems. If you look at space science today you’ll find a fair split between the genders, and most of them if asked will say they were inspired as kids themselves by Apollo, or by the shuttle and NASA / Europe’s deep-space missions (depending on their age).

      If anything, I would say that SF, at its most intelligent, actually aids and supports this, because it does encourage kids and teenagers to think more about the realms of possibility and what can be achieved – and SF conventions often invite those involved in the space programme along as guests to appear with the “big name” stars.

      And to return to the gender issue and Mars, some of the leading experts on the planet are women, such as Monica Grady, here in the UK, Carol Stoker in the US, while some of the top people involved in MSL itself are also women – Z. Nagin Cox (surface science supervisor), Anne Devereaux (flight systems engineer) and Jessica Trosper (mission manager) :).


      1. Oh that is awesome!! I was hoping kids would get it but just don’t know (my girl is grown). Sometimes I’ll watch a movie and think, ho hum, more spaceships and wierd planets. That’s great!!


      2. When Sally Ride passed away, I hoped that kids realized that she was real and lived in their lifetime and did amazing things. I just don’t have the visibility I used to have into these things (maybe time for me to move out of the forests of northern idaho.. hehe… well, actually serious).


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