Since 2012, while we’ve been getting on with our day-to-day lives on Earth, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been on Mars in search for signs of conditions that might make life sustainable on the planet. And on January 30, probably while we binged on Netflix or ordered groceries, NASA posted a stunning panoramic image of what the Mars rover “saw” in Gale Crater (video above).
The extraordinary image covers an area of more than 30 miles, and recaps the entire journey of the curious rover on Mars over the past five years. “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,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “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.”
The image was captured when Curiosity climbed the ridge inside Gale Crater, a huge basin created about 3.8 billion years ago. Since the scene was photographed shortly before winter solstice on northern Mars, the image offers a clear, sharp view that shows off buttes, dunes, distant hills and channels that previously held flowing rivers.
To see where the rover is now, you can check here. To learn more about Curiosity’s Mars mission and NASA’s overall Mars missions, watch the video below: