Sunday, June 23, 2013

Explore Mars in Details from your Room!

Nasa has released the first official images captured by its Curiosity rover showing the surface of Mars in crystal clear detail. The panorama is made up of one billion pixels stitched together from nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity.

The full-circle scene surrounds the site where Curiosity collected its first scoops of dusty sand at a windblown patch called 'Rocknest,' and extends to Mount Sharp on the horizon.

'It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras' capabilities,' said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California. 'You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.' Deen assembled the image using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity's Mast Camera instrument. He then supplemented in 21 frames from the Mastcam's wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames -- mostly of the rover itself -- from the Navigation Camera. The images were taken on several different Mars days between 5 October and 16 November 2012.

Earlier this year photographer Andrew Bodrov used the Curiosity images to assemble his own mosaic views of the planet, including at least one gigapixel scene. His mosaic shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.

This image, taken of an area on Mars called Rock Nest, is a scaled-down version from the 360-degree panorama. Nearly 900 images were taken by cameras attached to Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover and stitched together
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover's 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life. Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity's Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.

Bodrov also spent two weeks creating the interactive image below using 407 pictures from the narrow angle and medium angle cameras on the head of the rover, and included a bit of digital retouching. '[The camera] is only two megapixels, which by today's standards is not huge,' he told Popular Science. 'Of course, flying these electronic components from Earth to Mars, and having them survive the radiation and other hazards, means that they were not able to just use off-the-shelf cameras.'

Bodrov added the sky and a previous picture of Curiosity to the 90,000 x 45,000 pixel panorama with Photoshop. In March, Nasa chiefs were relieved when a computer glitch that had stopped operations for a week was solved, meaning they could get back to examining rock powder found on the planet. From April 4, radio communications between Earth and Mars will be blocked by the sun, meaning work will be halted again until May 1. For now, the £2billion six-wheel rover, which landed on the planet in August to begin its two-year mission, will continue to analyse the rock sample, which contains all the chemical ingredients necessary for life.

Popular Posts