NASA Releases Incredible Panoramic Photo of Mars

A composite image taken over six months gives us a new view of the red planet

Mars
Mars

While some people are likely disapointed by the fact that the human race is not living on Mars by now, NASA is calling this panoramic image of the red planet, released on Sunday, “the next best thing to being there.”

NASA has been showing off their photographic prowess a lot lately—from making us jealous of their camera gear, to taking the coolest star trail photos we've ever seen, and showing us new views of our planet when we thought we'd seen it all.

The latest impressive photographic feat comes from a panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The composite image was created using 817 images the rover took between December 21, 2011 and May 8, 2012.

The image is in false color to make different elements of the landscape more visible. For example, the patches of blue on the left side of the image are dust deposits and the bright pops in the foreground emphasize the rover’s own solar arrays and deck. The full image also includes a 14-mile-wide crater that holds evidence, scientists say, of ancient water.

The July release of the image was planned to coincide with the 3,000th day of Opportunity probing Mars (on July 2), and the anniversary of NASA dropping robots on Mars (Mars Pathfinder first landed July 4, 1997).

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