By Ryan F. Mandelbaum
If news from Earth has got you down, maybe this update from the Red Planet will take your mind off things. NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has produced an incredible 1.8-billion-pixel image of the surface of Mars.
The image above doesn’t nearly do it justice, so be sure to watch the video below. You can also use this NASA webpage to explore the panorama in detail.
Curiosity took more than 1,000 images of its surroundings late last year, and scientists have spent the past few months stitching them together. The image shows the side of Mars’s Mount Sharp, in a region called Glen Torridon. NASA also provided a second image that included Curiosity itself.
The rover was sitting without commands during this time period, as the Curiosity team was away on Thanksgiving vacation, according to a NASA press release. The operators of the camera still had to program the tasks in order to ensure the images were in focus and the lighting was the same each time. All in all, it amounted to a combined 6.5 hours observation time over the course of four days.
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