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See a mountain on Mars, as if under Earth-like lighting

NASA’s Curiosity rover has acquired images of Mount Sharp on Mars since it set down nearby in August. The latest shows what Mount Sharp would look like on Earth.

Mosaic of images from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows nearby Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment that makes the sky look blue (Martian sky is actually pink) but shows the terrain as if under Earth-like lighting.   Image via NASA.

Mosaic of images from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows nearby Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment that makes the sky look overly blue. This is how Mount Sharp would look if it were on Earth. View larger. Image via NASA.

A mosaic of images from the NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment. What’s that mean? For one thing, notice the sky, which is blue in the image above. Martian sky is actually a butterscotch color to the human eye, NASA says. White-color balancing is useful for showing the terrain on Mars as if under Earth-like lighting. It’s what Mount Sharp would look like on Earth. NASA scientists assembled the mosaic from dozens of images from the 100-millimeter-focal-length telephoto lens camera mounted on the right side of the Curiosity rover’s Mastcam instrument. The component images were taken during the 45th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s mission on Mars (Sept. 20, 2012). NASA says:

White-balancing helps scientists recognize rock materials based on their experience looking at rocks on Earth. The Martian sky would look more of a butterscotch color to the human eye. White balancing yields an overly blue hue in images that have very little blue information, such as Martian landscapes, because the white balancing tends to overcompensate for the low inherent blue content.

Read more about this image from NASA

Curiosity has been gazing at Mount Sharp periodically since landing near it in August, 2012. The rover will eventually move toward the loower slopes of this mountain, although it’ll first spend many more weeks around a location called “Yellowknife Bay,” where it has found evidence of a past environment favorable for microbial life.

Raw color image of Mount Sharp.  This is what it would look like to your human eyes if you were standing on Mars.  Image via NASA.

Raw color image of Mount Sharp. This is what it would look like to your human eyes if you were standing on Mars. View larger. Image via NASA.

Curious about what this mountain would look like if you were standing on Mars, gazing toward it with human eyes?

Here is the same mosaic of images – taken September 20, 2012 – showing Mount Sharp in raw color. Raw color shows the scene’s colors as they would look in a typical smart-phone camera photo, before any adjustment.

Read more about this image from NASA

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Deborah Byrd

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