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Curiosity rover snaps panorama of massive Mars mountain

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mars panorama
mars panorama

NASA this week released new high-resolution panoramic images of Mars' Mount Sharp, captured by its Mars Rover Curiosity. Named after late geologist Robert Sharp, the massive Martian mountain is a gently sloping formation that sits at the center of the Gale Crater, where Curiosity recently uncovered evidence that the Red Planet may have supported microbial life forms. According to NASA, Mount Sharp rises three miles above the surface of the crater, making it higher than any point within the 48 contiguous United States.

zoom in, space out

The mosaics released Friday were compiled from dozens of images that Curiosity captured on September 20th, 2012, on the 45th day of its mission. Curiosity took the photos using a telephoto lens with a 100-millimeter focal length, attached to the right side of the craft's sensing mast.

The agency released two versions of its mosaics: a white-balanced image (excerpted above) that gives an idea of what the landscape would look like under Earth-like, blue sky lighting, and a raw version that, according to NASA, shows what the mountain would look like if captured with a "typical smartphone." You can zoom in on, and pan across both versions on GigaPan (white-balanced here, raw version here).