More than two weeks after the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars, NASA on Wednesday finally released a full-resolution video of Curiosity's descent to the red planet. You can view the video here, or at the bottom of this page.
"This is a full-resolution version of the NASA Curiosity rover descent to Mars, taken by the MARDI descent imager," says the video description. "As of August 20, all but a dozen 1600x1200 frames have been uploaded from the rover, and those missing were interpolated using thumbnail data. The result was applied a heavy noise reduction, color balance, and sharpening for best visibility."
Even though the one-ton Curiosity rover has been sending back photos since it landed on Mars on Aug. 5, NASA had only provided a choppy-looking video until this point, which offered a chance to "relive the nail-biting terror and joy as NASA's Curiosity rover successfully lands on Mars."
The first video created by NASA was admittedly low-quality -- the images had a 192 x 144 resolution -- but NASA said that as communications improved between the rover and the agency, NASA would be able to distribute full-size, high-quality 1600 x 1200 photos. A few days later, NASA released a high-definition panorama of Mars (albeit black-and-white). Now, we have a fully enhanced video of Curiosity's landing in full 1080p HD.
The new video of Curiosity's descent is a composite of 1,054 total images, which were captured by the Curiosity's onboard Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). NASA didn't equip Curiosity with a video camera, so the video was pieced together using the still images. The original choppy video posted by NASA had only been a composite of 297 of those images.
"The image sequence received so far indicates Curiosity had, as expected, a very exciting ride to the surface," said Mike Malin, an imaging scientist at San Diego's Malin Space Systems, when Curiosity first landed. "But as dramatic as they are, there is real other-world importance to obtaining them. These images will help the mission scientists interpret the rover's surroundings, the rover drivers in planning for future drives across the surface, as well as assist engineers in their design of forthcoming landing systems for Mars or other worlds."
The Curiosity rover, which has been taking plenty of pictures and even zapping rocks with its laser, left Earth aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Nov. 26, 2011. NASA has more information about its most intelligent Mars rover yet:
"Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance. Later in the mission, the rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover."
NASA has a planned televised news conference scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.