Curiosity: “This is a very low-resolution panorama”

Having survived the seven minutes of terror, and landed successfully at Gale Crater, earlier this week Nasa’s mobile Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the 900kg rover Curiosity, lifted its 2m high camera mast.  And took a look at itself.  [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

Then it took a look at its new surroundings.  In colour. [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS]

JPL have helpfully put together a video of the panoramic view.

As the BBC spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes

The low-resolution vista shows at centre the big mountain that lies in the middle of Gale Crater, the deep depression in which the rover landed.

Curiosity’s ultimate goal is to drive towards this peak – informally known as Mount Sharp – to study its rocks.

“This is a very low-resolution panorama,” explained Mike Malin, the principal investigator on the rover’s Mastcam cameras.

“The individual frames are only 144 by 144 pixels. There are 130 of them in there. It took us about an hour and six minutes to take the mosaic.

“For the full-resolution panorama, the data volume will be 64 times larger, [and] the resolution will be eight times better. But this was pretty enough and interesting enough that we thought it was worth sharing with you guys,” he told BBC News.

The colour is what the camera saw. Apart from the process of blending the individual frames, the only modification made was to brighten the image slightly.

Pictures are deliberately acquired underexposed so as not to saturate any bright regions in the field of view.

Here’s a progress report from Mars Science Laboratory team member Jessica Samuels.  Via JPLNews.

Captain Kirk William Shatner is, understandably, enthusiastic.

And, at the Guardian, Dan Gillmor has some thoughts on the digital media savvy Nasa’s excellent self-coverage that are worth reading.

Although the Washington Post, hanging out on Google+, may have gotten there first…

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  • Mister_Joe

    I’m surprised we can see those small stones with that very low-resolution. It will be exciting when the hi-resolution ones start coming through.

  • Mister_Joe

    And, hope I’m not intruding but, for fellow sky gazers, the Perseids will be at their peak tonight.

  • Pete Baker

    “the Perseids will be at their peak tonight.”

    Indeed, joe.

    Hope you’ve got clear skies…

  • Mister_Joe


    We’ve had nothing but clear skies for almost 3 months until last night. Bit iffy now but I’m an optimist. We’re going to have a mixture but clearing overnight. Hope that doesn’t mean you’re overcast.

  • Pete Baker

    ‘fraid so…

  • Mister_Joe

    Can delete after reading.
    Almost got arrested 25 years ago. Took my wife out to a side road in the country at 2:00 am but didn’t know we had parked very close to a farmhouse. Owners got freaked and called the police who arrived 15 minutes later. They finally accepted my explanation.

  • The Raven

    Joe, it’s nearly an annual event where Pete posts about these meteor showers, and my follow up post is “cloudy skies”. I’m up on the North Coast – my mates down in Belfast tell me it’s cloud there too.

    Some year…just for 15 mins, I’ll be able to point the wide angle lens at the sky and catch some trails on the SLR. The past three years for either of the main events have been duds.

    Mr Baker, thanks for compiling these – a busy couple of weeks has meant I missed most of it. Stunning stuff.

  • Mister_Joe

    Might be a bust here this year, just like last year, although it’s normally clear skies. We’ve had a stalled low for two days now and mostly cloud. Bah!.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks Raven.

    As the BBC report notes

    “December’s Geminids often outperform them by a bit,” said Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine, “but the Perseids are probably the most-watched meteor shower, because they come in the warm vacation season.”

    I prefer the Geminids.

    Weather, and Moon, permitting…

  • Mister_Joe


    Why do you prefer them? Brighter, or better skies? Sky is usually a bust here at that time of the year. Our neighbouring County is called Grey County (ours is Bruce) and I think ours should be called Grey too in the winter.

  • Pete Baker


    Better skies, generally. Moon permitting…