Mars Rover Sends Stunning New Shots from the Red Planet

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology(PASADENA, Calif.) -- The Mars rover Curiosity has sent some spectacular new images to Earth, giving a detailed view of the landing site in Mars Gale Crater and the surface of the Red Planet.  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), mission control for the project, put them together in a giant mosaic.

“The mosaic, which stretches about 29,000 pixels across by 7,000 pixels high, includes 130 images taken on Aug. 8 and an additional 10 images taken on Aug. 19,” said JPL.

The images have been combined to provide a 360-degree panoramic view of the landing site, including the 3.4-mile high Mount Sharp. Exploring Mount Sharp is one of Curiosity’s primary objectives, largely because previous spacecraft in orbit spotted evidence of possible past exposure to liquid water at the mountain’s base.

The Rover also made history by sending the first audio recording of a human voice from Mars to Earth. The voice was that of NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who congratulated the mission team on its success in getting the rover to Mars. In the recording, Bolden said, “Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not-too-distant future.”

Curiosity landed on Gale Crater on Mars on Aug. 5. It is set to explore the crater over the next two years, looking, among other things, for evidence to determine whether the planet could have ever supported life. The rover, with a $2.5 billion budget, is equipped with an array of instruments to aid in its quest, including a rock-cutting laser and an onboard chemistry lab.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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