A thrilling new video released by NASA on Friday offers an unprecedented view of the Vera Rubin Ridge on Mars – a complex mosaic of rock which housed the Curiosity rover for the past year.
The amazing video unveils a 360-degree panorama of this intriguing Martian location, found within the famous Gale Crater – the 96-mile-wide depression where Curiosity landed in 2012.
According to the space agency, the video was created based on a 360-degree photo snapped by the intrepid Martian explorer last December. The interactive clip was uploaded on YouTube on February 8 and provides a detailed look at some of the sights recently surveyed by the Curiosity rover.
To navigate the video and pan over the Martian landscape photographed by the NASA rover, all you need to do is use the arrows in the top left of the screen. This will allow you to take in the scenery from all angles and see Vera Rubin Ridge through the eyes of the Curiosity rover.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the car-sized robot left the ridge in January to travel to a new drilling spot. Before bidding a fond farewell to Vera Rubin Ridge – which is located on the slopes of Mount Sharp, a 3.4-mile-high mountain rising in the middle of Gale Crater – the rover stopped to admire the sights and to capture the 360-degree panorama that has now been converted into a video.
Last View Of Vera Rubin Ridge
The magnificent picture was taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on December 19, 2018. The awe-inspiring view includes a close look at the rover’s final drill hole on Vera Rubin Ridge – which Curiosity bore into a drilling target dubbed “Rock Hall.”
The 360-degree panorama also shows the rover’s next destination – a region called Glen Torridon, more famously known as the “clay-bearing unit.” In addition, the photo and video showcase Curiosity’s “last view of Gale Crater’s floor until it starts ascending in elevation again,” explained NASA officials.
A GIF of the 360-degree video was posted on Twitter by the Curiosity team, along with a cute poem in which the rover said its goodbyes to Vera Rubin Ridge.
It was an early morning yestersol
I was up before the dawn
And I really have enjoyed my stay
But I must be moving on…
Take one last look around #Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge and see the area I'll be exploring next.
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) February 8, 2019
A New Destination In Sight
Shortly after snapping the 360-degree panorama, Curiosity began climbing down the slopes of Mount Sharp to reach its new home, Glen Torridon. As NASA points out, this region serves as a trough between the ridge and the rest of the mountain and provides a very interesting drilling location.
“This region had been called the clay-bearing unit because orbiter data show that the rocks there contain phyllosilicates — clay minerals that form in water and that could tell scientists more about the ancient lakes that were present in Gale Crater off and on throughout its early history.”
Another exciting thing about this location is its potential to host organic molecules.
“In addition to indicating a previously wet environment, clay minerals are known to trap and preserve organic molecules,” said Ashwin Vasavada, a Curiosity project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“That makes this area especially promising, and the team is already surveying the area for its next drill site.”
If Curiosity ends up uncovering both clay minerals and organic molecules while drilling at Glen Torridon, then the clay-bearing unit could become a clear example of what constitutes a “habitable environment on ancient Mars — a place capable of supporting life, if it ever existed,” explained NASA.