NASA’s Curiosity Rover snaps incredible 1.8 billion-pixel panorama of Mars

At first glance at this image, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as the set for the latest science fiction blockbuster imagining life on Mars.

But the scene is very much real, and was snapped by NASA ’s Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.

The composite contains a whopping 1.8 billion pixels, and is composed of more than 1,000 images taken during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday.

Curiosity’s Mast Camera used its telephoto lens to produce the panorama, while its medium-angle lens was used to produce a lower-resolution panorama.

Both panoramas show Glen Torridon – a region on the side of Mars’ Mounth Sharp that Curiosity is currently exploring.

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The 1,000 images that make up the high-res panorama were shot over four days, with NASA confining imaging to between 12 and 2pm to ensure the lighting was consistent.

Ashen Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist, said: “While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feast for the eyes. This is the first time during the mission we've dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama."

Curiosity launched to Mars back in 2011, landing on the red planet’s Gale Crater a year later in 2012.

The rover’s main aim is to help unravel the mystery of whether life has ever existed on Mars.

NASA explained: “Early in its mission, Curiosity's scientific tools found chemical and mineral evidence of past habitable environments on Mars. It continues to explore the rock record from a time when Mars could have been home to microbial life.”

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