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February 6, 2014 AT 3:17 pm

Curiosity Rover’s Epic New Panorama of the Sands of Mars


Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be on Mars? This incredible panorama might be the closest experience you can get! Via Wired.

NASA’s Curiosity rover recently climbed atop a dune in an area nicknamed “Dingo Gap” on Mars and peered into the valley beyond. This stunning 30,000-pixel-wide panorama — made from 101 images — is what it saw.

The incredible mosaic is best viewed by clicking on the full-screen button in the upper left. It comes to us courtesy of Estonian photographer Andrew Bodrov, whose work we’ve featured several times before. The panorama shows off the spot that Curiosity is pausing at before rolling on to the base of Mount Sharp. There, it will search for signs of ancient life on Mars and try to figure out how the planet changed from a warm, wet one to a cold, dry one. In the distance, you can see the mountainous rim of Gale Crater, over which the rover has photographed some amazing images of the Earth in the night sky.

Engineers had originally planned to reach Mount Sharp using a fairly direct route. But after concerns that the rough terrain was bunging up the rover’s wheels too much, they sought an alternate path. A few days ago Curiosity reached Dingo Gap, beyond which satellite images show much smoother goings. A 1-meter sand dune, featured prominently in the panorama above, stands at the gateway to Dingo Gap. On Feb. 3, it seemed likely that the rover would take this easier route, though a final decision is still pending.

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