NASA's Curiosity rover doesn't take breaks for the holidays. While the rest of us were salivating over Thanksgiving feasts last year, the Mars rover was still toiling away. On Wednesday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shared images from the Curiosity rover, noting that it took at least 1,000 photos of the Martian landscape between November 24 and December 1 in 2019.
It's possibly the highest resolution panorama of Mars that we have right now, at 1.8 billion pixels, according to the space agency. The panorama reveals a detailed look at the Glen Torridon patch of Mars, which lies within the Gale Crater. But good luck downloading the 2.3GB file. We've tried and been told it'll take between 17 and 24 days to download, only to later fail.
Curiosity's impressive gear — Curiosity's photography took at least 6 hours over the course of a few days. The rover aimed to take photos between 12:00 p.m and 2:00 p.m. Mars time for the right lighting. For its gear, Curiosity relied on its Mast Camera (otherwise known as Mastcam) to create the rich panoramas with the help of its medium-angle lens. Here's one example.
What NASA says — NASA is proud of Curiosity's adventures. "While many on our team were at home enjoying turkey, Curiosity produced this feast for the eyes," the rover's project scientist at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ashwin Vasavada, said. "This is the first time during the mission we've dedicated our operations to a stereo 360-degree panorama."
We don't know when, if ever, humans will visit Mars (including Elon Musk who has bizarre plans for the red planet) but as long as we have Curiosity out there, we can expect pixel-heavy postcards of the Martian terrain.