OK yes, I’m a bit late to the game with this one, it has been around for some time … but this is MARS, I just had to do it.
This is indeed a strange gravelly place with a large mountain in the distance. Curiosity has landed on target near the edge of 150-km wide Gale Crater, with Mount Sharp on the horizon being the rise in the crater’s center. As a car-sized rover with six wheels and a laser, Curiosity is ready for a two-year mission of exploration, climbing Mt. Sharp, and looking for signs that Mars once harbored life. The rolling explorations will soon start. What will we find? What is out there?
What you are in fact looking at is the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover. The panorama was made from thumbnail versions of images taken by the Mast Camera.
Scientists will be taking a closer look at several splotches in the foreground that appear gray. These areas show the effects of the descent stage’s rocket engines blasting the ground. What appeared as a dark strip of dunes in previous, black-and-white pictures from Curiosity can also be seen along the top of this mosaic, but the color images also reveal additional shades of reddish brown around the dunes, likely indicating different textures or materials.
If you want a closer look, simply click on the image below.