NASA’s Curiosity rover sends first colorful photos image

It’s been five days since NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars. Yesterday, Curiosity gave us a full black and white 360 degree panorama, and today we have the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site.

“It’s beautiful just to finally see the colors in the terrain,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, who is part of the mission.

The car-size rover remained healthy and busy testing its various instruments. Several pebbles landed on the rover’s deck next to its radiation sensor during the final seconds of landing as it was lowered to the ground, but project managers said the stones posed no risk.

The images were taken late Aug. 8 PDT (Aug. 9 EDT) by the 34-millimeter Mast Camera. This panorama mosaic was made of 130 images of 144 by 144 pixels each. Selected full frames from this panorama, which are 1,200 by 1,200 pixels each, are expected to be transmitted to Earth later.

It is important to understand the geological context around Curiosity,” said Dawn Sumner, a member of the Curiosity science team in the release. “We want to choose a route to Mount Sharp that makes good progress toward the destination while allowing important science observations along the way.”

The $2.5 billion Curiosity project, formally named the Mars Science Laboratory, is NASA’s first astrobiology mission since the Viking probes of the 1970s and is touted as the first fully equipped mobile geochemistry lab ever sent to a distant world.