The Clearest Images Of Another Planet You’ve Ever Seen

Now that the Curiosity rover is good and settled, it’s starting to take in some scenery. This batch of images if both clear and exceptionally Earth-like.

NOT a popular mountain biking destination in Utah


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For scale, an annotated version of the figure highlights a dark rock that is approximately the same size as Curiosity. The pointy mound in the center of the image, looming above the rover-sized rock, is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high.

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NOT a sand dune in northern Africa


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This image taken by the Mast Camera (MastCam) on NASA’s Curiosity rover highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed.

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NOT a volcano in Hawaii


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The gravelly area around Curiosity’s landing site is visible in the foreground. Farther away, about a third of the way up from the bottom of the image, the terrain falls off into a depression (a swale). Beyond the swale, in the middle of the image, is the boulder-strewn, red-brown rim of a moderately-sized impact crater. Father off in the distance, there are dark dunes and then the layered rock at the base of Mount Sharp. Some haze obscures the view, but the top ridge, depicted in this image, is 10 miles (16.2 kilometers) away.

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NOT a canyon park in Arizona


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The 100-millimeter Mastcam has three times better resolution than Curiosity’s 34-millimeter Mastcam, though it has a narrower field of view.

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It produces pictures are so clear you can almost smell the air:

Like a hospital or scientific laboratory, Mars as we can imagine it today may be relatively sterile, harshly lit, and at the same time, occasionally peppered by odd colors, thinly pitched metal sounds and memorable chemical smells.

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