NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured a detailed 360-degree panorama while exploring an area known as “Teal Ridge” on the slopes of Mount Sharp. The robotic geologist is now halfway across a large clay-bearing unit, first spotted from orbit, where deposits indicate the presence of streams and lakes within Gale Crater in the distant past. “This area is one of the reasons we came to Gale Crater,” said Kristen Bennett of the U.S. Geological Survey. “We’ve been studying orbiter images of this area for 10 years, and we’re finally able to take a look up close.”
Curiosity has traveled about 21 kilometres (13 miles) since landing in Gale Crater in 2012 and has climbed about 368 metres (1,207 feet) above its touchdown point. Its drill has collected 22 samples of martian soil to help researchers better understand the red planet’s past habitability and clues about the transition from a warmer, wetter world to the frigid desert seen today.
Click on the video below and then drag the cursor to view the 360-degree panorama (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS).