An amazing panoramic view of the surface of Mars has been created by the Curiosity Rover, showing us Earthlings that the red planet may not be that different from our own.
The image, comprising of 16 pictures of the surface from the top of the Vera Rubin Ridge, shows a sprawling mountain range which has been given a familiar blue hue by Nasa, instead of the distinctive red that we usually associate with Mars.
The photos were taken on top of a ridge about 327 meters high and show the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater, which is estimated to be between 3.5 to 3.8 billion years old.
The white-balance of the pictures has been adjusted, meaning that the colour of the rocks appear as they would do on Earth.
Nasa also released an annotated version of the images, charting the journey that curiosity has made since it landed in 2012.
In the background, a mountain that is 50 miles away can be seen far more clearly than it would appear from Earth.
This is possible because the atmosphere of mars is as much as 100 times thinner, allowing for greater visibility.
Since landing on Mars over five years ago, Curiosity has traveled 11 miles from its original spot, after its journey of over 350 million miles across space.
After its mammoth task, it touched down on the surface just 1.5 miles from the intended landing spot.
Curiosity’s Mast Camera, or Mastcam, took the component images of the panorama three months ago while the rover paused on the northern edge of Vera Rubin Ridge.
Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada said: ‘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.’
‘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.’
Just behind the Bradbury Landing, which is where the rover made first contact, is Yellowknife Bay where in 2013, the mission found evidence of an ancient freshwater-lake environment that offered all of the basic chemical ingredients for microbial life.
Farther north are the channel and fan of Peace Vallis, relics of the streams that carried water and sediment into the crater about three billion years ago.