Watch NASA’s breathtaking new panorama of Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover may be making headlines, but its predecessor is also capturing new information about Mars.

Since August 2012, the Curiosity buggy has been studying whether the red planet could once have harbored microbial life.

To mark the rover’s ninth year on Mars, NASA created a 360-degree tour of Curiosity’s current home on Mount Sharp.

Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
The car-sized rover was designed to explore Mars’ Gale Crater.

The 5 kilometers high The mountain sits in the 54-kilometer-wide basin of the Gale de Mars crater. NASA believes the area may contain clues as to how the planet has dried up.

The spacecraft monitoring the mission show that Curiosity is currently between an area enriched with clay and one full of sulphates. Layers of the mountain in this region can reveal how the environment has lost its water over time.

“The rocks here will begin to tell us how this once humid planet turned into today’s dry Mars and how long habitable environments have persisted even after that,” said Abigail Fraeman, associate scientist for the Curiosity Project.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has used the drill on its robotic arm to take 32 rock samples to date.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
Curiosity used a drill on its robotic arm to take 32 rock samples.

The panorama was created by stitching together 129 photos captured by Curiosity’s mast camera.

The colors were then balanced to white to replicate how the landscape would appear in daylight on Earth. You can check it out by clicking on the video at the top of this article.

The sky in the panorama is relatively clear because the photos were taken during the Martian winter, a period when there is less dust in the atmosphere.

The image also captures the rover’s next destinations: Rafael Navarro Mountain and an unnamed hill that’s taller than a four-story building.

After nine long years on Mars, Curiosity could still steal more of the Martian limelight from its young cousin.

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