Since August 2012 the Curiosity rover has been patrolling the surface of Mars, taking pictures and documenting scientific information. We’ve seen some stunning images already, but now the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have released a “complete” 360-degree video experience – which viewers can watch on their phones.
The footage was produced by stitching together photos taken by Curiosity’s cameras of the areas around the Bagnold Field and Namib Dune on the lesser slopes of Mount Sharp last year.
NASA reports that the images – which together form a superb all-round view of the Red Planet’s surface – were captured on 18th December 2015, the rover’s 1,197th sol (a Martian day – which lasts about 40 minutes longer than one on Earth).
A previous version of the video was released on the Curiosity’s Facebook page at the end of last month. However, the perspective was reported to be warped and the images slightly distorted. In this, the second attempt, NASA used sophisticated algorithms to link better the images into a seamless whole.
Both Facebook and YouTube are currently allowing users to upload the “360” videos, and people can interact and observe the planet. By moving your phone around using the YouTube app, you can “navigate” through the Martian scene, just as you might on Google Earth.
Watch Mars-360 video:
The Mars rover does not at present have a virtual reality (VR) camera as part of its complement of 14 image capturing devices. Still, space and technology aficionados have described the newest video experience as “mesmerizing”.
The Namib Dune, which appears in the video, provides us with our first images of a sand dune system out with planet Earth. NASA scientists say the dunes can move position as much as a metre during one Earth year.
The Curiosity rover has now been surveying the world for three years, 188 days, covering over 7 kilometres in distance to date.