NASA’s Curiosity spacecraft has captured a stunning image of Mars. The space agency shared this breathtaking panorama on June 13.
Curiosity took the two photos with its black and white navigation cameras in the Marker Band Valley on April 8. One panorama was captured in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
NASA officials added color to draw attention to rock formations and the difference between the morning and afternoon sky.
A postcard from me to you. 💌
Bonus points if you show me a photo of it on your fridge. pic.twitter.com/2N0ikw6sBi
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) June 14, 2023
The blue light in the panorama indicates morning, the yellow chic afternoon.
The photo shows the Markez Band Valley, where evidence of an ancient lake was discovered, as well as traces left by Curiosity on Earth. In February 2023, it was announced that Curiosity had sent back evidence of a lake that existed on the Red Planet millions of years ago, reminiscent of the marks left by waves on rock surfaces.
Beyond the rover’s tracks, the image shows the Marker Band Valley, where the robot explorer unexpectedly discovered evidence of an ancient lake.
“Anyone who has been to a national park knows that the landscape looks different in the morning than it does in the afternoon,” said Doug Ellison, Curiosity engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
“Capturing two different times of day provides dark shadows because the light comes from left and right, just like on a stage. But here, instead of stage lights, we have the Sun.”
In Gale Crater, the shadows are more pronounced because the images were taken in winter, when the dust in the air is closer to the surface. “The shadows on Mars are sharper and deeper when there’s less dust, and softer when there’s more dust,” Ellison said.
Since 2014, Curiosity has been climbing the 5-kilometer Steep Mountain, or Aeolis Mons as it is officially called, in the center of Gale Crater.
Curiosity, which the space agency launched in 2011 to reach Mars, aims to explore the Red Planet’s potential for habitability.