New orbital images of Curiosity landing site from Mars Express and HiRISE
The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express produces color images covering large swaths of Mars. In July of last year, they obtained a very nicely framed color image that includes all of Gale crater and some of the terrain beyond. I tip my hat to Doug Ellison for noticing this image release and pulling it out of the data archives:
ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum) / Doug Ellison
HRSC swath across Gale Crater
An especially high-quality High Resolution Stereo Camera image covers all of Gale Crater in color. It was captured on July 27, 2013, or Curiosity sol 346.
Curiosity's in the photo, but you can't see it; despite its name, the High-Resolution Stereo Camera can't achieve the resolution necessary to spot Curiosity or any of its (very slight) effects on Gale. At its full resolution, this image has 25-meter pixels. What's this image good for, then? My favorite thing to do with relatively low resolution color data is to use it to colorize high-resolution but monochrome data. The nicest camera for creating maps of regions on Mars is the Context Camera (CTX) on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. CTX produces beautiful, crisp photos at 6 meters per pixel. Here's what it looks like when you colorize the CTX data with the HRSC data, or just enjoy this before & after colorization comparison:
NASA / JPL / MSSS / ESA / DLR / FU Berlin (G. Neukum) / Tanya Harrison / Emily Lakdawalla
Before & After: Colorizing a higher-resolution monochrome image with lower-resolution color data
The base image (left) is a monochrome view from the Context Camera (CTX) on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. On the right, it has been colorized with lower-resolution color data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express.
Here's the color part over Murray Buttes. It's fun to zoom way in on this one and look for rover-sized boulders at the bases of the buttes. It's going to be an interesting landscape to drive through, once we finally get there.
NASA / JPL / UA / Emily Lakdawalla
Murray Buttes in color
A HiRISE image of the landscape of buttes and polygonally fractured bedrock that represents a passage for Curiosity through the black sand dunes between her landing site and Mount Sharp. The photo was taken on March 14, 2014. Lower-resolution color data has been used to colorize a higher-resolution monochrome image. The full image is about 1 kilometer wide.
Curiosity at the north edge of the Kimberley, sol 581
The HiRISE photo of Curiosity at the Kimberley was taken from orbit on March 26, 2014. It was sol 581 on the Curiosity mission, and the rover had just bumped a couple of meters toward the north edge of the outcrop of the "striated unit" at the Kimberley. The photo has been colorized with data from an earlier HiRISE image taken on August 4, 2010.
For thoroughness' sake, here is my new map of color HiRISE coverage of the Curiosity landing site. There is now only one HiRISE image worth of the whole area that Curiosity is likely ever to traverse that has not yet been covered in color. Get on that, HiPlanners! :)
NASA / JPL / MSSS / UA / Emily Lakdawalla
Color HiRISE swaths covering the Curiosity field site