Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Have you seen the pictures from Mars?

No? Ah, that's a shame. Here you go. First link, NASA photojournal. The photos there have already been processed and stitched, and I find the panoramas astonishing. It's just unbelievable that those pictures come from another world.

Second link, raw images. You probably want to select pictures from Mastcam or MAHLI if you want to see anything of interest. In the Mastcam photos you'll find also a few images taken in the near-infrared spectrum, if you're into multispectral imaging at all (here is a detailed description of the Mastcam, including the spectral sensitivity of the sensor and the spectral transmission of each filter).

For me, the drawback of the raw images is that for most of them only the visible-light high resolution version is available, while there's only a tiny thumbnail for the near-infrared. The reason for this is bandwidth. Yes, it doesn't take a lot of bandwidth to download a photo. But Curiosity is on Mars, and the interplanetary bandwidth is very limited. On top of this, the same antenna that communicates with Curiosity is used for all the other probes as well (or at least some of them, I'm not sure now and can't be bothered to google it). So, limited bandwidth and limited time slot too. The result is that at NASA engineers download only thumbnails of images, and then download the higher resolution version of those they deem worth the effort.

It's a shame, because I'd be very interested in putting my hands on some misty image of the horizon, where the near-infrared version is crisp and clear...

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