You can't visit Mars in person yet, but NASA can help you feel like you're there. The Curiosity rover captured an epic megamosaic of distant features highlighting the sandy and rocky Martian landscape.
The rover team gathered the images for the massive mosaic during an extended stay at the "Mary Anning" drill site in the Gale Crater earlier in 2020. Curiosity took the opportunity to do a deep study of the area, which included making three drill holes and.
Over the course of two months, Curiosity collected "the largest mosaic obtained so far with ChemCam's Remote Micro-Imager (RMI)." RMI is a camera designed for extreme close-ups, but those imaging talents can also be used to capture telescopic views of distant formations.
It took 216 images to make the megamosaic, which can be experienced in video form. The views include an area of Mount Sharp, the massive central mountain in the Gale Crater where Curiosity is exploring, and a spot called.
The video points out visual highlights along the way, including a dune field, the wall of Gale Crater and a dark layer on Mount Sharp.
"When stitched together, RMI mosaics reveal details of the landscape several kilometers from the rover, and provide pictures that are very complementary to orbital observations, giving a more human-like, ground-based perspective," wrote Curiosity team member Stephane Le Mouelic, a remote sensing specialist with the University of Nantes in France, in a Curiosity mission update on Monday.
The megamosaic is a reminder of how Mars can look familiar and feel alien at the same time. It gives us an excuse to take a break from Earth for a few enchanting minutes.