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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Curiosity looks back on its 5-year journey with sweeping panorama

• https://newatlas.com, Michael Irving

From its perch on a ridge partway up Mount Sharp, Curiosity has snapped a panorama of Gale Crater, capturing many of the geological features the rover has explored and investigated over the years.

The impressive imagery, stitched together from 16 different shots, was taken on October 25, 2017, as the northern hemisphere of Mars approached its winter solstice and the weather was nice and clear. That allowed the rover to make out features all along the floor of Gale Crater, across to the mountains that form the rim, and even spot a distant hill, some 50 miles (85 km) away, peeking over the top.

The photo was taken from Vera Rubin Ridge, named after the late "mother of dark matter." To get there, Curiosity has climbed an elevation of 1,073 ft (327 m) above its landing site, and traveled a total of almost 11 miles (17.7 km).

"Even though Curiosity has been steadily climbing for five years, this is the first time we could look back and see the whole mission laid out below us," says Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity Project Scientist. "From our perch on Vera Rubin Ridge, the vast plains of the crater floor stretch out to the spectacular mountain range that forms the northern rim of Gale Crater."

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