A 360 degree Mars video has recently been shared with the public by NASA representatives, and the clip provides a deeply immersive experience, bringing the Red Planet closer than ever.
The footage was uploaded and published on the official YouTube channel pertaining to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday, February 8.
This release comes on the heels of another video that was shared on Facebook a week and a half ago. Apparently, that clip wasn’t considered engaging and smooth enough, being slightly disjointed and garbled, which is why this new video was created, to serve as a more interactive and captivating replacement.
The short film was actually made by combining photographs with a 1600 x 1200 resolution into a 720 p panoramic video, at 15 frames per second.
The images were captured by Curiosity, a car-sized rover that has been examining and surveying the Red Planet ever since August 6, 2012, when it successfully landed on the Martian surface.
The reconnaissance robot is powered by a nuclear energy source called the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator and took the photographs included in the 360 degree Mars video using its true-color Mast Camera system (MastCam) on December 18, 2015.
That was Curiosity’s 1,197th day on the planet, although it must be noted that on Mars days are approximately 40 minutes lengthier than they are on Earth.
At the time, the rover was exploring the Bagnold Dunes, a geological formation consisting of dark-colored sand dunes, distributed along the northwestern side of Mount Sharp.
The most prominent eolian landform appearing in the clip is the Namib Dune, while Mount Sharp can be clearly discerned in the background.
While the footage clearly shows the Martian panorama in all its glory and complexity, Curiosity also makes an appearance, allowing technology buffs to closely examine its structure and design.
The 360 degree Mars video provides viewers with a stunning virtual tour of the Red Planet, whose immersive nature can be fully enjoyed by watching the clip using a virtual reality device like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR.
Alternatively, the film can also be viewed on a smartphone, using YouTube’s mobile app and tilting the gadget in order to explore various parts of the Martian landscape.
Also well worth seeing is Curiosity’s “selfie”, which was created by NASA researchers by stitching together a set of 57 photographers taken when the rover extended its robotic arm and pointed another camera known as the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) at itself.
Aside from taking stunning pictures of the Red Planet’s Gale Crater, Curiosity has also been making ground-breaking discoveries lately.
For instance, in March 2015, as part of its quest to determine if Mars was ever a habitable planet, capable of allowing life to flourish, NASA’s robotic rover encountered a region which scientists have called “Garden City”.
Here, mineral veins of various ages were identified, which suggests that water flew across the Martian bedrock during several eras, although it’s unclear for now why these favorable conditions were replaced by widespread aridity and overly low temperatures more than 3 billion years ago.
Curiosity also detected formations with a high concentration of silica, which once again stirred the imagination of scientists worldwide, given the fact that such deposits normally appear in wet regions, and are often common in environments that harbor microbial life.
Image Source: India Today