When NASA's Curiosity rover was sent to Mars, it was supposed to be on a two-year mission. The rover is supposed to be gathering information on the Red Planet in preparation for future missions. In December of last year, NASA extended that mission indefinitely. This week, NASA is showing off the first NASA-produced image of the surface of Mars thanks to Curiosity's work.
Based on 900 exposures captured by Curiosity between October 5 and November 16 of last year, the image measures more than 1.3 billion pixels. Bob Deen of Nasa's Multi-Mission Image Processing Lab created the picture using 850 frames from the telephoto camera on Curiosity's Mastcam instrument. These were supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam's wide-angle camera and 25 black and white shots of the rover itself from the Navigation Camera.
"It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras' capabilities," Deen said. "You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details."
You can check out the 1.3-billion-pixel image and explore with the pan and zoom tools here. You can also download a scaled down version here.