New Curiosity Rover Panorama Photo Lets You Explore Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge
After a couple failed attempts, NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover successfully collected a new rock sample by drilling into the planet's surface last month. As a part of its victory lap, the rover shot a 360-degree panorama of the location where the hole was drilled, known as the Vera Rubin Ridge after the late American astronomer who first discovered evidence of dark matter in the 1970s. That image of a dust-covered rocky landscape is now available online as an immersive 8K video (below) that you can view through your browser or a capable VR device.
Is it just us, or is the Red Planet look really...brown? NASA also shared a high-resolution JPG of the image for those who don't want to (or can't) step into the panorama. In a Jet Propulsion Lab blog post, the space agency explained that the image has been color adjusted so that it "approximates white balancing, to resemble how the rocks and sand would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth." The skies match the terrain because of a recent dust storm that reportedly blanketed the entire planet, and a layer of that dust is visible on the top of the rover itself because there are no Martians around this time of year to wipe it off.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
So far, there hasn't been any news (that we've seen) of people who claim to see strange structures or perfectly aligned rocks in the photo, but it is still pretty early. The full-size image is 10000 × 2886, which means that somewhere, someone is zooming in to every pixel of it to find the blurriest evidence of life. To avoid the speculation and conspiracy arguments for now and accept the image for what it is, it's cool that NASA keeps gifting the public with such incredible views. We don't have 8K monitors lying around to fully appreciate what the Curiosity rover is seeing, but we're also not sure our Earthling eyes are ready to.