NASA has released a new, stunning panoramic image of Mars. The scene is stitched from 817 images taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity from Dec. 2011 to May.
To do the image justice, you have to download the hi-resolution version, but be warned it's close to 14 MB.
"Bright wind-blown deposits on the left are banked up against the Greeley Haven outcrop. Opportunity's tracks can be seen extending from the south, with a turn-in-place and other maneuvers evident from activities to position the rover at Greeley Haven. The tracks in some locations have exposed darker underlying soils by disturbing a thin, bright dust cover.
"Other bright, dusty deposits can be seen to the north, northeast, and east of Greeley Haven. The deposit at the center of the image, due north from the rover's winter location, is a dusty patch called 'North Pole.' Opportunity drove to it and investigated it in May 2012 as an example of wind-blown Martian dust."
What struck us is just how much like Earth, the Red Planet looks like in this picture. Note that NASA has tweaked natural colors in order to enhance some details.