11 Jul 2012

Panorama view from Mars

6:04 am on 11 July 2012

NASA has pieced together a panoramic view from the camera on its Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, calling it the next best thing to being on the Red Planet.

The view, showing the tracks left by the $US6 billion vehicle, comes from a panoramic camera on the space laboratory, combining 817 images taken over a period of four months from 21 December 2011 - 8 May 2012.

The panorama includes the rover's solar arrays and deck in the foreground when the craft was stationed on an outcrop nicknamed Greeley Haven.

Pancam lead scientist Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, said the images provide a "spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we've driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission."

Opportunity completed its 3000th Martian day on 2 July, marking 15 years of robotic presence on the Red Planet.