As if the Curiosity rover mission hadn’t blown enough minds, NASA releases a new gigapixel image composite of Mars' "Rocknest" area.
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Nearly a year after landing on a giant rock 60 million miles from Earth in the most awesomely logic-defying manner, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is still holding the world’s attention, thanks to its monumental discoveries and the breathtaking images that it captures.
NASA released another enchanting image this week, a 1.3-billion-pixel beauty (that's 1.3 gigapixels!) compiled from 900 separate exposures taken between October 5 and November 16 of 2012. To snap these pictures, operators used three different on-board cameras: a Mast Cam telephoto, a Mast Cam wide-angle, and the black-and-white Navigation cam.
The image captures the "Rocknest" site where Curiosity scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. You can even see Mount Sharp on the horizon (What? You’ve never heard of Mount Sharp?).
"It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras' capabilities," said Bob Deen of the Image Processing Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. "You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details."
The image is particularly interesting for its rendering of solar-illumination effects. According to the NASA website, the mosaic also depicts changes in atmospheric clarity due to shifts in dustiness throughout the month.
And just because this video never gets old...