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Curiosity Transmits First 360-Degree Panorama From Mars 108

Posted by timothy
from the posted-with-instagram dept.
redletterdave writes with this snippet from the IB Times: "Five days after NASA's Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars, the one-ton robot sent another postcard back to Earth, this one a 360-degree doozy. Curiosity's first panorama, albeit black-and-white, gives Earthlings a great high-quality glimpse at the surface on Mars, specifically within the 96-mile Gale Crater."
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Curiosity Transmits First 360-Degree Panorama From Mars

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  • Lies (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:32PM (#40957961)
    That's not a picture of Mars. I've been where this picture was taken... It's in southern Nevada. They're probably embarassed that the lens cap was left on, so they're showing us this instead. :)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Right, even if they do have a probe on Mars and if they did come across something really exciting and interesting like say ruins or other artefacts, they would not show us that .. so why bother getting excited. Sure busting them in yet another big government lie is good, but personally I havent even bothered yet to look at the rocks they want to show us.

    • Re:Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LongearedBat (1665481) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @02:27PM (#40958899)
      Flamebait?!? Humour impaired modders, I say!
  • I always wonder about these pictures, and I hate to sound like an idiot, but why don't they ever seem to take color photos on these things? Is there not enough light, and they have to use infrared?

    Like I know that pictures of structures in space (e.g. nebulae) are colored in because they're being captured with radio telescopes rather than optical ones, but I'm imagining that these pictures are taken with a relatively normal digital camera. I know adding color would increase bandwidth, but I can't imagine

    • Re:Color? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:42PM (#40958047)

      Curiosity is a hipster, color photographs are too mainstream.

    • Re:Color? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:44PM (#40958065)

      This rover actually does have color cameras on it. The primary navigation cameras are B&W, but there are two color 2-mpixel cameras used for sending back photos. NASA has some information on that [nasa.gov]. Not sure why the linked image here is in B&W. Perhaps they sometimes take B&W photos to save bandwidth? The MarsEarth link is 29 kbit, basically '90s modem speed.

      • Re:Color? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @06:09PM (#40960301) Journal
        It's because of how cameras work.
        The CCD sensors that make up each pixel can't sense color, they only sense light intensity. Putting a filter in front of them lets one get light of a single color. In a consumer camera every CCD is filtered by a red, green, or blue filter. In a scientific camera the full resolution is desired, instead of 1/3 resolution, so they use swappable filters and take 3 images; one red, one green, and one blue. These are then composed into a single color image. They can also use different filters (IR, UV, etc) depending on what data they want to capture (and the sensitivity range of the CCD in the camera). When color data isn't needed, full-spectrum luminance info is desired, or just to save bandwidth, they take unfiltered pictures.
    • Re:Color? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:49PM (#40958101)

      I know adding color would increase bandwidth, but I can't imagine that alone is the problem.

      Actually, that alone is the problem. It's a 1mbit / 256kbit stream to a satellite in LEO that's only overhead for 18 minutes every day. I guess it's something about the transmitter being a few billion miles away that makes it hard, or something...

    • Re:Color? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:50PM (#40958115)

      Since these are science missions, the camera isn't equipped with a fixed Bayer pattern filter in front of the sensor. Instead it uses exchangeable filters. You can't make an interchangeable Bayer pattern filter, so they have to take three pictures to capture the red, green and blue channels separately. In addition to "sciency" filters, Curiosity also has filters for "human perception" color photography, whereas the spectra that were combined into color pictures from earlier missions did not match human perception because they were optimized just for the science. Curiosity should give us a first glimpse of what Mars would like like to human eyes (although it appears that they were not that far off before, see here [fotoausflug.de].

      • Re:Color? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @02:12PM (#40958815)

        Correction: The older rovers had to take three pictures for a color picture and lacked the human perception filters. Curiosity has color cameras: the Mastcams on the same mast as the black-and-white navigation cameras, a downward pointing camera for taking pictures of the descent, and a camera on the instrument arm. The Mastcams have filter wheels with narrowband and neutral density filters that can be added on top of the fixed Bayer pattern filter.

    • +1 for color photos. This at least would help settle the question of the color of the sky over Mars. Most depictions including sci-fi movies I've seen of the Martian sky show it red rather than blue, which is the sort of sky one would expect to see from a sun-like star. The red is supposed to be caused by pollution like rusty dust storms or during sunrise/sunset.

    • Re:Color? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @01:01PM (#40958219)

      I am not an astrophysicist, but this is my understanding. The cameras are not like normal digital cameras. Regular digital cameras use 4 sensors per pixel (with different color filters) [wikipedia.org] to take color pictures. This causes artifacts in the image because the different colors in a pixel are actually measuring different parts of the image, so some demosaicing algorithms are used to remove the artifacts. Additionally, the spectral bandwidth of the color filters (how much of what wavelengths they let through) in the camera is fixed (and generally set to approximate the human eye response -- color is not an objective measurement and is generally defined based on measurements of how people perceive different wavelengths of light).

      Cameras used for scientific work are less concerned with making things look like the human eye would perceive them and more concerned with obtaining accurate and well-controlled images. Such cameras generally consist of an array of unfiltered sensors with an external, exchangeable, color filter. These color filters may vary from wide-bandwidth filters (for grayscale), to extremely narrow-band filters that only pass wavelengths within a few nanometers of the center frequency (useful for verifying structure or composition of objects).

      Look for some pseudo-color images later. They just need to take the same picture 3 or more times with the appropriate sets of filters and then combine them into an image that approximates what someone would see.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        This would usually be the case, however the Curiosity does, in fact, carry several true color-capable cameras.
    • Re:Color? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Saturday August 11, 2012 @01:08PM (#40958283) Homepage Journal

      Nasa's web site [nasa.gov] is the first place I look. There's a treasure trove of beautiful high resolution photos, movies, data. The photo you're looking for is there. I linked the panoramic shot in a comment farther down.

    • I always wonder about these pictures, and I hate to sound like an idiot, but why don't they ever seem to take color photos on these things? Is there not enough light, and they have to use infrared?

      Like I know that pictures of structures in space (e.g. nebulae) are colored in because they're being captured with radio telescopes rather than optical ones, but I'm imagining that these pictures are taken with a relatively normal digital camera. I know adding color would increase bandwidth, but I can't imagine that alone is the problem.

      Try out this link... http://hubblesite.org/gallery/behind_the_pictures/meaning_of_color/index.php [hubblesite.org]

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      They do have some color pictures already, just not a full panorama in color. See here [arstechnica.com]. The Curiosity, unlike much space exploration stuff, actually has true-color cameras not just composite imaging or false-color cameras. The result looks... well, exactly like Nevada desert.

      • Excuse me? At the end of the page you linked to, there is in fact a color panorama.

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          Low resolution thumbnail picture composite only, not full resolution, and they omitted the parts that show most of Curiosity itself (so not really full, as I would define it). For some reason I also thought it wasn't a 360-degree one, but on closer examination it looks like it is, and now that I look at the one linked in TFA, it also omits several parts of the image. There is a full color high-res image here [nasa.gov] (direct link [warning: the image is very large, over 11MB]: here [nasa.gov]), although it too has frames missin

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I always wonder about these pictures, and I hate to sound like an idiot, but why don't they ever seem to take color photos on these things?

      Simple: Because they're designed for doing science, not taking holiday snapshots. Black/white cameras can have filters put in front of them, this way they can analyze different parts of the spectrum. They can even take color pictures by combining three exposures made with RGB filters.

    • I always wonder about these pictures, and I hate to sound like an idiot, but why don't they ever seem to take color photos on these things? Is there not enough light, and they have to use infrared?

      They are still transmitting on the Low Gain/Low Speed antenna, plus they are still running the Flight software and have not replaced it with the software that's intended for Surface operations. As soon as the High Gain/High Speed antenna is deployed and the software for surface operations is loaded, they have a few color panoramas and a high resolution Landing Movie they will be sending down. After all that happens, the rover activities on Mars will increase as well as the amount of science that will be bea

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "I'm imagining that these pictures are taken with a relatively normal digital camera."

      And that's where you went wrong. Digital camera sensors measure luminance only. If you want a colour image, you put a colour filter in front of the sensor. The sensor in your camera probably has a Bayer filter in it, which is a pattern of red, green and blue filters. Using a Bayer filter lets you capture a colour image with one snap, but also means you get a bit less resolution and the chance of some artifacts.

      These sh

    • We have color photos from mars - they were just using black and white for testing and saving bandwidth. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/gallery-indexEvents.html [nasa.gov]
  • Okay, that link is not only choppy on my 4 core 8gb ram system (I have no idea why), but it's also in black and white.

    Here's one that is in color, and much better: http://panoramas.dk/mars/greeley-haven.html [panoramas.dk].

    • by nissin (706707) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:45PM (#40958081)
      That may be color, but it is the wrong rover! For those wondering why they don't take color photos...they do, but they take much longer to downlink. They are transmitting small thumbnails first, then full size B&W images, then they will do the full res color photos and videos, over the coming days/weeks/months. This way they can get initial images to check for any damage, etc as quickly as possible.
      • by iONiUM (530420)

        Ah my apologies, I thought it was curiosity.

  • nasa.gov (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Saturday August 11, 2012 @12:41PM (#40958033) Homepage Journal
  • A modern smartphone has more powerful processors than the computers on curiosity, more hard drive space too. 1. We spent 804 billion dollars in Iraq and didn't even get a "thank you card"..or a drop of oil 2. We spent 90 billion dollars on reconstruction in Afghanistan to "win hearts and minds"...and they hate us 3. We spent 2.5 billion dollars sending CURIOSITY to MARS, a technological feat that set space exploration ahead 50 years, sent a message to the world that the US is still the leader in technology
    • by Anonymous Coward
      " We spent 2.5 billion dollars sending CURIOSITY to MARS, a technological feat that set space exploration ahead 50 years"

      Could you please elaborate on that astonishing claim? We sent Viking on Mars almost 40 years ago, all that's changed now is better electronics.

      " and will provide us with a wealth of scientific data for years to come"

      Another bold claim. Are we going to find new elements? New fundamental forces? We're getting pictures of rocks along with their composition. How is that a "wealth" of scien

      • " We spent 2.5 billion dollars sending CURIOSITY to MARS, a technological feat that set space exploration ahead 50 years"

        Could you please elaborate on that astonishing claim? We sent Viking on Mars almost 40 years ago, all that's changed now is better electronics.

        Curiosity is a rolling lab that will be performing meaningful tests for years. It hasn't finished even setting itself up yet, jeez, are you impatient! Eventually it'll be moving up the walls of the crater which have been already dug out, making it easier to view the history of how Mars was formed. " and will provide us with a wealth of scientific data for years to come"

        Another bold claim. Are we going to find new elements? New fundamental forces? We're getting pictures of rocks along with their composition. How is that a "wealth" of scientific information? You'll find more complexity and questions inside a cell.

        Who knows what will be learned, that is exactly what's so exciting! We don't know right now, but we will soon! It's a fantastic thing thats happening, for the first time in human history, we are doing things on another planet! We are preparing for eventually walking, living and working on Mars, very possibly in our lifetime! If that doesn't get your juices flowing, then you have my sympathy.

        • . . . for the first time in human history, we are doing things on another planet!

          No, not for the first time! The Viking program, Pathfinder, Opportunity and Spirit rovers, and others that I'm not mentioning. Are you 12 years old?
      • by rubycodez (864176)

        hey dumb-ass,

        viking sat in one place, it did not rove. as for cells, suppose we discover Mars had them at one time, or has them now?

    • Creating a better life for 67 million people, not to mention a a safer world for the rest of us, was actually more important than taking pictures of dirt on Mars.

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      We spent 804 billion dollars in Iraq and didn't even get a "thank you card"

      True, but we did receive some nice complimentary footwear [youtube.com].

      • We spent 804 billion dollars in Iraq and didn't even get a "thank you card"

        True, but we did receive some nice complimentary footwear [youtube.com].

        Aww, if the thrower of that footwear had just adjusted for windage....

    • Two reasons: (1) Fairly long design cycle and transportation cycles. They were working on Curiosity in 2003. They had to wait an extra 26 months for a later launch window. it takes ten months to get there. (2) Use field grade components that better resist radiation and shock. Field grade (military) are often a generation or two behind the latest consumer toys.
  • when did Yahoo News rename itself to ibtimes.com

  • ...is where I go to get the latest space news. Just kidding. I go to the Bad Astronomer, who posted a color 360 panorama two days ago: http://mblogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/08/09/first-color-360-degree-panorama-from-curiosity/ [discovermagazine.com] C'mon Slashot, you can do better than this.
  • Looks like an uninhabited pile of rock and sand to me. Now could we move on and build a huge space station with artificial gravity? Quickly please, because we're going to need it.

  • Looking at the hill beyond the shadow, and slighty to the right, that hill seems to have layers to it. I'm not a geologist, so keeping in mind that I'm quite clueless...

    I assume that different layers are caused by different climates, and given the lifeless rock that Mars is, that would mean different levels of humidity, probably caused by different temperatures. If so, can we work out how long ago those periods were? Could those periods be matched with what we have on Earth, such as ice ages? Or are my

    • From what I've heard from NASA's scientists, Curiosity landed in such a perfect place, that many questions about Mars could be learned from just right where she sits, that liquid may have once flowed right where the rover is now. Pretty cool.
  • Seriously, can someone point out the skeleton of some dead Martian creature in the background so we can get past this "Is there life on Mars?" question?
  • How about an actual photo instead of some Flash movie?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Its funny the links people actually choose to share .... random business media is a funny source when one could just go straight to the JPL MSL page. The picture in the stories linked article is from the black and white NAVCAM. We just released the full color Mastcam partial mosaic today:

    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=4421

    Note the link on that page to the FULL resolution image.

    -A

  • It's interesting how much gravel got kicked onto the top of Curiosity by the landing sequence. I know they used the sky crane to keep it from getting totally buried, but I hope they were counting on how much/the size of what they got.

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