A recently acquired panoramic picture of the Martian surface has been making rounds on the internet sent by the Curiosity Rover comprising of 16 selfies of the horizon surrounding the Gale Crater. The Curiosity Rover was sent to the Red Planet to scour for evidence of ancient lake or water body that once existed at the Gale Crater. The journey started in the year 2012 from the landing site moving forwards slowly and steadily collecting samples of the places close by to ultimately reach the Ridge. The rover managed to click some selfies while accomplishing its task of providing information about the Gale Crater.
The pictures obtained by NASA were in forms of 16 pictures that were accumulated together by the researchers to form a panoramic view of the location where one can easily see the journey of Curiosity from beginning till the height of Vera Rubin Ridge. The viewers can see the low lying slopes of the Mount Sharp from where the rover captured the pictures along with the distant mountains and hills. The floor of Gale crater can also be seen in the picture which is located about 11 miles from the point of view.
Curiosity rover comprises of some of the most complicated and advanced instruments like the laser, chemistry set as well as a drill that adds to the convenience of getting data and samples. However, many times, the rover has disappointed by clicking more pictures that obtaining samples or data. Even after a lot of criticism by a NASA panel, Curiosity rover managed to bring the planet close to the general public with the latest set of pictures.
The data obtained from the soil collected by Curiosity states that the planet once used to house lakes and rivers. However, the pictures of eclipses, shimmering sand, and dust devils sent in by the rover suggest that the planet is still beautiful to look at.
The pictures were taken by Curiosity on its 1,856th day at Mars. The selfies were taken when the rover had trodden about 1,073 feet of elevation while covering a distance of about 17.63 kilometers from the site where it first landed. The picture shows some of the geographical points at the Martian surface such as the Namib Dune, Yellowknife Bay, Murray Buttes, and The Kimberly. One can also see the Peace Vallis which contributed to the ancient stream that flowed down to the Gale Crater. The pictures have been color-coded at NASA for ease in the visibility.
Moreover, Curiosity is the largest and most capable rover ever sent to Mars. It launched November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars at 10:32 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5, 2012 (1:32 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, 2012).
Curiosity set out to answer the question: Did Mars ever have the right environmental conditions to support small life forms called microbes? Early in its mission, Curiosity’s scientific tools found chemical and mineral evidence of past habitable environments on Mars. It continues to explore the rock record from a time when Mars could have been home to microbial life.
Curiosity carries the biggest, most advanced instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. The history of Martian climate and geology is written in the chemistry and structure of the rocks and soil. Curiosity reads this record by analyzing powdered samples drilled from rocks. It also measures the chemical fingerprints present in different rocks and soils to determine their composition and history, especially their past interactions with water.
It is fit to climb over knee-high obstacles and travels about 100 feet (30 meters) per hour, depending on instrument activity, the terrain, and visibility its cameras have of the path ahead. The rover carries a radioisotope power system that generates electricity from the heat of plutonium’s radioactive decay. This electrical power source has already far exceeded its required operating lifespan on Mars’ surface of at least one full Martian year (687 Earth days). The generator provides greater mobility and flexibility in operating the rover regardless of season or sunlight. The steady flow of electrical power has enhanced the science payload capability and permitted consideration of landing sites at a greater range of latitudes than was possible on previous rovers.