New 360-degree Mars video puts you on the surface of the red planet

A new NASA video lets you see what it’s like to be a rover exploring a vast crater on Mars. The 360-degree video shows a panorama taken during the afternoon of April 4 on the red planet from the perspective of NASA’s Curiosity rover, a car-sized spacecraft that has been piecing together Mars’ history from the Gale Crater since the rover landed in 2012. In this panorama, Mars looks strangely Earth-like with its grey-blue sky and mountainous terrain. According to a NASA statement, some of the panoramic images taken from Naukluft Plateau (shown in the video) were shot from the “highest viewpoints” Curiosity has reached, producing a beautiful scene of the Martian landscape. “The scenes show wind-sculpted textures in the sandstone bedrock close to the rover, and Gale Crater’s rim rising above the crater floor in the distance,” NASA said in the statement. “Mount Sharp stands in the middle of the crater, which is about 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter.” Curiosity will eventually start investigating three interesting bits of geology on the lower levels of Mount Sharp. The rocks could help scientists understand how long the Gale Crater was habitable for microbial life millions of years ago, NASA said. Earlier in its mission, the rover found that the microbial life could have once survived in Gale Crater, which may have actually played host to long-lived lakes. At some point in its history, Mars changed from a warmer, wet world to the cold, dry one we see today. A NASA Mars orbiter called MAVEN discovered that the red planet’s atmosphere was torn from it by wind from the sun pounding it, causing it to slough off into space. So far, Curiosity has driven about 7.9 miles since landing on Mars, and it’s in relatively good shape to continue moving along on the rough surface of the red planet. Scientists are keeping a close eye on the rover’s damaged wheels, but they think Curiosity is up for its roving tasks ahead.

Very cool!!  To see the video, click on the text above.     🙂

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