You're looking at a small section of a vast and colorful panoramic view of Mars, one of the latest to be beamed back by NASA's Curiosity rover. The panorama (click here for full-res) shows a 360-degree view of the rover's landing site, and a clear shot of the highest visible reaches of Mount Sharp, the rover's primary scientific target.
Sharp towers an impressive 5 kilometers above the floor of Gale crater, its peak soaring even higher in elevation than portions of the crater's rim. If it looks small here, that's because there's a fair bit of distance between it and Curiosity — about 12 miles (20km). According to the Agency:
The images were obtained by the rover's 34-millimeter Mast Camera. The mosaic, which stretches about 29,000 pixels across by 7,000 pixels high, includes 130 images taken on Aug. 8 and an additional 10 images taken on Aug. 198. These images were shot before the camera was fully characterized.
Check out the video below to see the panorama up-close.
Also included in Curiosity's latest batch of images: this stunning telephoto view of the base of Mount Sharp, which clearly shows the layers of geological strata that make the mountain's lower elevations such an attractive scientific target:
"This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go," said Mastcam principal investigator Michael Malin in a statement. He continues:
Those layers are our ultimate objective. The dark dune field is between us and those layers. In front of the dark sand you see redder sand, with a different composition suggested by its different color. The rocks in the foreground show diversity — some rounded, some angular, with different histories. This is a very rich geological site to look at and eventually to drive through.
Up next for Curiosity: a new song by will.i.am (of The Black Eyed Peas) will be broadcast from the surface of Mars via the rover. Watch it live today at 16:00 EDT on NASA TV.