Insider Insights: Articles

How does NASA's Curiosity rover take such incredible pictures?


By Scott Sutherland
Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 11:51 PM

The Curiosity rover has taken some incredible pictures from Mars - panoramas, 3D images, and some great 'selfies' - that have caused some to wonder how it's done. The above video, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, runs through the numerous cameras installed on the rover, showing us what they're used for and what they're capable of.

The self-portraits of Curiosity, as the video says, are taken using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), which is located on the 2-metre-long arm on the front of the rover. Since this camera has the same resolution and colour range as the rover's Mastcams, these can be stitched together into megapixel panoramas that actually include the rover in them, like this one:

Click image for the full megapixel version

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, MSSS - Panorama by Andrew Bodrov

The image is incredible, but the real way to explore it is in its interactive form. That is best seen on Click here, go full-screen, and enjoy!

At the time that this composite image was stitched together, Curiosity was still pretty far out from its initial destination - the base of Mt. Sharp (visible at the bottom left and bottom right of this nearly 360-degree panorama). Now, though, the rover has driven far enough to reach a new milestone in its exploration.

The image above is a small part of this larger panorama, which was shot with its navigation cameras just last week:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

With the rover now starting to investigate the base of Mt. Sharp, we're surely in for some incredible discoveries to come!

BE SURE TO CHECK BACK!: Unofficial 'Mars Week' continues here on, with an extended look at the Red Planet and our efforts to explore it, all leading up to celebrating the 2nd Earth anniversary of Curiosity's 'Seven Minutes of Terror' landing.

More by this author

Leave a Comment

What do you think? Join the conversation.
Default saved

Search Location


Look up Canadian postal code or US zip code