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Curiosity Captures Scenic 360-Degree Video as it Begins New Mission on Mars

Oct 05, 2016 04:55 AM EDT

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover is leaving Mount Sharp, but before that, it captured a scenic 360-degree video of the region.

Mount Sharp is one of the most scenic and informative landscapes on Mars visited by the rover. Curiosity started its new mission extension last Oct. 1 and it requires the rover to be somewhere else thus its migration from Mount Sharp.

The 360-degree video captured about one mile and a half of a ridged terrain where iron-oxide mineral hematite is present. Clay-rich bedrock from a far can also be seen in the video.

Curiosity is equipped with innovative cameras that can capture a diverse perspective of the Martian terrain. Last April, it produced another 360-degree video of Mars showing Earth-like rock formations almost similar to the Arizona landscape.

But Mount Sharp and its features aren't just aesthetic landscapes to photograph. The clay-rich bedrock and the formation captured by Curiosity are some of the key exploration sites on lower Mount Sharp. This is also a key region where Curiosity investigates potential evidence of water on Mars like the dark streams indicative of flowing water movement.

"We continue to reach higher and younger layers on Mount Sharp," Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a press release. "Even after four years of exploring near and on the mountain, it still has the potential to completely surprise us," Vasavada added.

Before leaving Mount Sharp, NASA's Mars Curiosity rover also gathered hundreds of images of the mesas and buttes in the region. In total, there are almost 180,000 images that the rover has managed to capture since it landed on Mars in 2012.

"Bidding good-bye to 'Murray Buttes,' Curiosity's assignment is the ongoing study of ancient habitability and the potential for life," Curiosity program scientist Michael Meyer in a statement. "This mission, as it explores the succession of rock layers, is reading the 'pages' of Martian history -- changing our understanding of Mars and how the planet has evolved. Curiosity has been and will be a cornerstone in our plans for future missions," Meyer added.

Despite leaving the picturesque region, scientists are expecting to discover more about the red planet as Curiosity traverse unknown and unvisited regions on Mars.


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