by Matthew Cobb
Last night NASA released this billion pixel image of the Martian landscape, from where Curiosity is sitting at the moment, in a place called Rocknest (it’s called that by NASA; we’re not sure what the indigenous inhabitants call it, what with them having a hundred words for ‘red rock’ and all).
Go on, click on that link and have fun. It’s astonishing – you will be investigating the surface of Mars from your earthbound desk, or even more amazing, a handheld device! We may not have jetpacks or flying cars, but the 21st century has certainly delivered on its promises here!
There are several different versions of the image, either a cylindrical one, or a straight zoomable/scrollable one. You may need Flash (grr) or Silverlight installed. Here’s what the opening page looks like:
And because the image is so dense, you find all sorts of weird things in there. Here’s something I noticed, which NASA has called a ‘white shiny object’. It’s to the left of Curiosity’s ‘head’, in the Panoramic viewer. See if you can find it. What is it?
And even weirder, this Martian bird, spotted by NASA in the sky about 15% in from the right:
And here’s something that really IS true. It’s a dry waterfall on Mars, spotted by the HI RISE satellite in the Southern Branch of Kasei Valles (there’s a stereo pair of these images, so if you follow the links you’ll be able to look at it in 3-D…):