It’s almost like being there.
NASA has released a stunning panorama showing everything from the latest rover tracks to billion-year-old impact craters. The Pancam camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity gives one of the most amazing views yet of the fourth planet.
The release of the full-circle panoramic photo coincides with two major milestones — Opportunity just completed its 3,000th Martian day on July 2; and NASA is celebrating 15 years of robots on Mars. The first rover, Mars Pathfinder, landed in 1997. Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, landed in January 2004. The next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, is expected to land next month.
The panorama is presented in false color to emphasize the difference between materials in the scene, NASA said. It was assembled from 817 total images taken between Dec. 21, 2011 and May 8, 2012.
“The view provides rich geologic context for the detailed chemical and mineral work that the team did at Greeley Haven over the rover’s fifth Martian winter, as well as a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we’ve driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, Pancam’s lead scientist.