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added to Mars Science Laboratory almost 4 years ago
Mars Science Laboratory “Self Portrait”
NASA’s Curiosity rover which touched down on the planet Mars sits in solitude in Gale Crater at 4°32’05.21" south, 137°26’52.34" east; where it waits to begin a multi-year mission to explore for evidence that environmental conditions could have once supported life.
This panorama is comprised of a series of 36, 1200×1200 pixel RAW jpg images shot by the rover’s right Navcam on August 8 (Sol 2). The photo-taking sequence was programmed into the rover before landing, so the framing of this series does not include a consistent view of the horizon and virtually no sky. To build this spherical panorama, I sampled the sky using a single image from another rover camera—the 34mm Mastcam (different from the Navcam)—and used that sample to build a simulated sky with faithful hues for that general time of day. The horizon also required considerable retouching because of incomplete coverage in the RAW images. According to information released by the MSL engineering team, future panoramas should include better samplings of sky and horizon allowing for pretty exciting cylindrical scenes (however alas, no sphericals). I would anticipate some truly breathtaking vistas once the rover begins to traverse the deep valleys on its way up the slope to the mountain at the center of Gale Crater.
For a look at how the 36 individual frames fit together in the final scene, look for the “Curiosity’s Before Shot” scene in this tour.
Within a few weeks (hopefully as soon as early September), the JPL Engineering and Science teams will begin a drive that will take them to their first stop: A location approx. 400 meters to the east of its current location to investigate an amalgamation of three different rock types.
Video: “7 Minutes of Terror: Curiosity Rover’s Risky Mars Landing” http://youtu.be/h2I8AoB1xgU
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