Every now and then I get unexpectedly caught up in a project that I originally intended to be a quick just-for-fun thing and ends up taking an hour and a half of my time (usually long after I should have gone to bed.) This was one of those.
Made up of 28 raw images acquired by Curiosity’s right Mastcam camera, this is a panorama of the rover’s surroundings in Gale Crater on mission Sol 844 – December 21, 2014 our time. The colors are what one would see in ambient Mars lighting… for a more Earth-like view, see below:
The high rocky outcrop on the left is nicknamed Salsberry Peak after a mountain in California’s Death Valley. This was Curiosity’s destination after passing “Whale Rock,” a smaller outcrop that revealed layers indicating formation by rippling water action – likely before the crater’s central peak Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) even existed. See Curiosity’s traverse map here.
The image above took a while to assemble in Photoshop and, although some of the stitching isn’t perfect, really shows off the stark, rugged beauty of the southwestern-style landscape in Gale Crater! It’s easy to forget we’re looking at a picture from another planet…
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Jason Major.
UPDATE: Here’s another mosaic, a closer look at the top outcrops of Salsberry from images taken on Jan. 1 (Sol 855).