Wish you were here: NASA’s Curiosity rover is sending a rare postcard from Mars on the 10th anniversary

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NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrated the 10th anniversary of its launch on November 26th with a spectacular postcard from the Red Planet. The rover had taken two black and white images of the exciting Martian landscape while sitting on the side of Mount Sharp. NASA scientists combined and added color to the two images, then shared the composite image on the space agency’s Instagram account. In the caption, NASA said the Curiosity rover “thinks of you” and therefore sent this postcard. “It’s important to keep in touch with loved ones,” he added.

Normally, Curiosity, which was launched exactly 10 years ago in 2011, uses its navigation cameras to take a 360-degree view of its surroundings before sending the panoramic image back to earth. These images are usually sent in a low quality compressed format so that they can be more easily sent to Earth.

But this time it was different. When the team behind the rover saw the landscape in front of Mount Sharp, a 5 km high mountain, they decided it was worth taking the picture in the highest quality.

NASA said in the caption that the beauty of the landscape was so inspiring that the mission team “decided to add a little flair” by combining images taken at two different times of the day and adding color to create a rare postcard.

Separately, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which leads the Curiosity mission, said in a statement that the blue, orange, and green hues are not what the human eye would see. Instead, they represent the scene as viewed at different times of the day. Elements of the morning scene were shown in blue, the afternoon scene in orange and a combination of both in green.

Mount Sharp is located in the Gale Crater, a 154 km wide basin formed by an ancient impact. The distant rim of Gale Crater can be seen on the horizon.

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