Panoramic View Of Mars Rich In Pixels; Reveals Minute Details Of The Red Planet

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NASA on Wednesday released a new panoramic image of Mars that offers a billion-pixel view of one part of the red planet.

The image, taken by cameras onboard the Mars rover Curiosity, consists of 1.3 billion pixels, stitching together nearly 900 exposures. The image provides great details of the Martian landscape along the rover's route.

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The full-circle view of Mars displays “Rocknest,” the rocky area where Curiosity initially dug and collected the first sample of the planet’s soil. The image also shows “Mount Sharp” on the horizon, the area Curiosity is now heading for, in search of habitats that could be suitable for microbial life.

"It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras' capabilities," Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., said. "You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details."

According to NASA, the panoramic image is an assembled product, using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity's Mast Camera instrument and supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam's wide-angle camera. In addition, 25 black-and-white frames -- mostly of Curiosity itself -- were also used from the Navigation Camera. All images were captured on different Mars days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.

NASA said the image includes illumination effects based on variations in the time of day. It also displays variations in clarity of the atmosphere because of uneven dustiness during the month the images were taken.

The billion-pixel image is available for examination with pan and zoom tools here. There are two options for viewing the image: Cylindrical and Panoramic.

In the Cylindrical view, you can drag the entire image left and right for a 360-degree view, while in the Panoramic view, there are multiple snapshots available, which can be clicked to zoom in and out to view any particular area in the main image.

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