It is such a thrill to see the billion-pixel panoramic view of Mars as seen by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Within that it is a minor thrill to know that the panoramic view is taken using Photosynth, a free Microsoft app which also resides on my Windows phone.
The top panoramic photograph above is taken by Curiosity using Photosynth and captures the landscape in breathtaking detail. The one right below it of my front yard is taken by an HTC phone using the same Photosynth but at 13 megapixels.
Seen together the two can pass off as ‘before and after’ on a fictional HGTV series ‘Martian Makeover’. Of course, the Martian landscape has that primal beauty which needs no making over.
I was particularly struck by how fantastic the resolution is at the billion-pixel view. In the two photographs below see the panoramic view of Mount Sharp, a three mile-high mountain whose foothill is the ultimate destination of Curiosity.
See the rock circled red. Then see the close-up view of that same rock and notice extraordinary detail. When you consider that you are looking at a rock the size of 17 inches by 10.5 inches, or almost like a fully open jacket of a hardbound book, from over 227 million miles covered in about 20 light minutes you begin to grasp the enormity of the sheer technological brilliance of this mission. As an aside, you also begin to understand how far smart phones have come that you can be equipped with essentially the same apps on your device as the Mars mission. Cool, huh!
Looking at this rock above I could not help but think that if there were a comparably advanced civilization on Mars like Earth whose inhabitants rose in revolt, some of them may have hurled this particular rock. Perhaps planets are sometimes better off without us.