Mars, close up

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A raw-color version of the mosaic is available at here. Raw color shows the scene’s colors as they would look in a typical smart-phone camera photo.

This mosaic of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment that makes the sky look overly blue but shows the terrain as if under Earth-like lighting. White-balancing helps scientists recognize rock materials based on their experience looking at rocks on Earth. The Martian sky would look more of a butterscotch color to the human eye. White balancing yields an overly blue hue in images that have very little blue information, such as Martian landscapes, because the white balancing tends to overcompensate for the low inherent blue content.

Mount Sharp, also called Aeolis Mons, is a layered mound in the center of Mars’ Gale Crater, rising more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor, where Curiosity has been working since the rover’s landing in August 2012. Lower slopes of Mount Sharp are the major destination for the mission, though the rover will first spend many more weeks around a location called “Yellowknife Bay,” where it has found evidence of a past environment favorable for microbial life.

This mosaic was assembled from dozens of images from the 100-millimeter-focal-length telephoto lens camera mounted on the right side of the Mastcam instrument. The component images were taken during the 45th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s mission on Mars (Sept. 20, 2012). The sky has been filled out by extrapolating color and brightness information from the portions of the sky that were captured in images of the terrain.

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12 comments on “Mars, close up

  1. The technology used to create this mosaic photo is indeed amazing. I would love to see a photo with the “butterscotch” colored sky that presents a more realistic picture of Mars… just for fun. It is difficult for humans to “think outside the box” and to realize how unique and special our planet is to be able to sustain life.

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  2. It is interesting what technology can do know days, making a picture of mars seem as if it one of the earth is pretty amazing. I wold like to have an opportunity to play with such technology my self.

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  3. It is interesting to see, when the camera adjusts, how similar the landscape of Mars looks like the southwest desert. It makes me wonder what Mars looked like before it became barren, and if it looked anything like Earth looks today.

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  4. It is super interesting to see a compilation of photographs to see what Mars really looks like. With the white balance, that almost looks like it could be somewhere here on Earth. Also, the fact that Yellowknife Bay could have been an environment for microbial life makes me think that this generation may discover more and more about life on Mars.

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  5. The mosaic is beautiful, like a clear day on one of the earth’s deserts; it’s amazing that it took dozens of pictures to make it so we could better understand it!
    Lynn Guest

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  6. It is really interesting that scientist are able to fix their cameras to get make a better picture of Mars and look like Earth. It is also interesting in “Yellowknife Bay,” scientists has found evidence of a past environment favorable for microbial life.

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  7. It’s amazing to see what we can do with our camera settings and how we can make a picture of Mars look exactly like Earth by adjusting the white balance. I’m eager to see what evidence could be found of microbial life on other planets.

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  8. It’s interesting to know how scientist adjust the settings of their cameras and fixing the white balance to get a better understanding of what their looking at. It’s also interesting knowing mars terrain is butterscotch colored.
    Hugo Anguiano

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  9. It’s interesting to know how scientist adjust the settings of their cameras and fixing the white blance to get a better understanding of what their looking at. It’s also interesting knowing mars terrain is butterscotch colored.

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  10. I find it interesting that just as in the Moon mining article, the best way we can understand Mars is by comparing it to Earth. They couldn’t mine the moon without composing materials like it on Earth, and we can’t understand the landscape of Mars without making it a little more Earth-like in appearance.

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