NASA’s Curiosity sends first 360-Degree Panorama from Mars image

Curiosity, Nasa’s roving laboratory has begun to send black-and-white images of Martian gravel, a mountain at sunset and, most exciting of all a complete 360-Degree Panorama from Mars.

Curiosity landed at a site called Gale Crater, at the foot of a 3.4 mile (5.5 kilometer) high mountain. The crater spans 96 miles, an area about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, according to NASA.

“The first impression that you get is how Earth-like this seems looking at that landscape,” said chief scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology.

Curiosity will spend the next two years collecting data as it roams the Martian surface. The rover uses an assortment of tools, including a robotic arm, to search for the basic ingredients of life, including carbon-based compounds, nitrogen and oxygen, as well as minerals that might provide clues about possible energy sources.

Since landing, engineers have been busy performing health checkups on its systems and instruments.