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Emily LakdawallaAugust 18, 2012

The first Curiosity 360-degree panorama including the mountain

UPDATE: There's a Navcam view of the mound! See below.

The Curiosity mission team appears to be in no hurry to command the rover to take photos with Navcam or Mastcam that reach to the peak of the mountain at the center of Gale crater. (I'm not complaining; they have more important things to do right now. Well, maybe I am complaining, just a little bit.)

So space enthusiast Damien Bouic has stepped into the breach, doing his best with the only photo we have that reaches the mountaintop: the one taken by the rover's forward Hazard Avoidance camera on the day of the landing. It's a wide-angle, fisheye camera, so the view is pretty low-resolution, and there's a divot at the right side where a piece of Curiosity obstructed the view. But it gives us a taste of what's to come.

EDIT: Daniel Fischer has correctly pointed out that we are not seeing the actual topmost point on the mountain; the highest point is not visible, over the horizon. I'm still calling what we are seeing a "peak."

You can download a static version from his blog (which he has laid out as a lovely poster, ready for printing), or tour the VR version below (Flash required).

Check it out! Early this morning, August 18, the rover did take Navcam photos of the mound! Here's my attempt at assembling the three frames into a mosaic:

Gale's central mountain as seen from Curiosity's landing site

NASA / JPL / Emily Lakdawalla

Gale's central mountain as seen from Curiosity's landing site
This three-frame Navcam panorama is composed of images captured at about 13:30 local solar time on sol 12.

Read more: pretty pictures, amateur image processing, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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