The panoramic landscape of Mars

The image was captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. It is an image of the ‘Marker Band Valley’ landscape. The views were taken on April 8 at 9:20 am and 3:40 pm. The panoramic Mars landscape was filled in with color and offers a peaceful glimpse of the Red Planet.

The lighting makes the details of the scene stand out. Blue was added to parts of the postcard captured in the morning and yellow to parts taken in the afternoon. The same was done to a similar postcard taken by Curiosity in November 2021.

The panoramic landscape of Mars was beautifully captured by Curiosity.
The panoramic landscape of Mars was beautifully captured by Curiosity.

Sunlight

The resulting image is striking. Curiosity sits in the foothills of Mount Sharp, inside Gale Crater. The rover has been exploring there since it landed in 2012. In the distance, beyond its footprints, lies Marker Band Valley. It is a sinuous area in the “sulfate region” within which the rover discovered unexpected signs of an ancient lake.

The panoramic landscape of Mars is completed below by two hills. They are “Bolivar” and “Deepdale,” between which Curiosity drove. “Anyone who is in a national park knows that the scene looks different in the morning than it does in the afternoon.” Said Curiosity engineer Doug Ellison of NASA in a statement. He planned and processed the images. “Capturing two hours of the day provides dark shadows. Lighting comes in from left and right, just like on a stage. But instead of stage lights, we rely on the sun.”

The rover has left us striking images of the Red Planet.
The rover has left us striking images of the Red Planet.

Martian winter

Adding to the depth of the shadows is the fact that it was winter. This is a period of less dust in the air at Curiosity’s location when the images were taken. “The shadows on Mars become sharper and deeper when there is little dust. They are softer when there is a lot of dust,” Ellison added.

The image peeks beyond the rear of the rover. Its three antennas and nuclear power source are visible. The Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, instrument appears as a white circle in the lower right. It analyzes radiation on the planet’s surface.

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