Tech Report

By: Nick Gambino

The newest 360-degree video of Mars taken by Curiosity shows a side of the red planet that looks a lot more like Arizona than the red dunes depicted in Total Recall. Schwarzenegger not Farrell.

You can explore this video 360 degrees by clicking and moving your mouse or mobile device.

Curiosity took this panorama from the muddy and rocky Murray Buttes on August 5th by snapping 130 different pictures from one position in celebration of the fourth anniversary of its landing.

Murray Buttes is located on lower Mount Sharp which rises 18,000 feet over the valley beneath it. You can see upper Mount Sharp in the panorama.

“The buttes and mesas of Murray Buttes are capped by material that is relatively resistant to erosion, just as is the case with many similarly shaped buttes and mesas on Earth” NASA details on their website.

Now one of the reasons this look at Mars makes it appear eerily similar to Earth is due to a bit of photo editing trickery. “The scene is presented with a color adjustment that approximates white balancing, to resemble how the rocks and sand would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth,” NASA explains.

The 360-degree feature isn’t supported by all browsers including Safari. You’ll need to use Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (is anybody really still using that?) or Opera. But don’t worry if you don’t have one of those. The full static panoramic shot can be seen here. The sky and the rover hardware are blocked out in the image because, you know, conspiracy.

Mars Photo 1
Courtesy of NASA.

This of course isn’t the first we’ve seen of Mars from Curiosity. Having landed in 2012 the little guy has been hard at work roving and analyzing. But lucky for us he takes time out every once in a while to show us what he sees.

Mars Photo 2
Courtesy of NASA.

And sometimes to take a selfie.

Here’s hoping the next image gives us some sign of life on the planet. Really anything will suffice – a bug, a plant, a psychic mutant named Kuato coming out of some guy’s stomach. I open and close with a Total Recall reference. It’s what I do.

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Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.