This 'postcard' of a Mars day from NASA's Curiosity rover is gorgeous (photo)

This 'postcard' of a Mars day from NASA's Curiosity rover is gorgeous (photo)

A striking new postcard from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the Marker Band Valley region of Mars in the morning and the afternoon.

Science & Tech

NASA's Curiosity rover has sent home a stunning postcard from Mars that shows the same region of the Red Planet in the morning and in the afternoon.

The scenic view of the Marker Band Valley was created by uniting two panoramas of the region that Curiosity took on April 8, 2023 with its black-and-white navigation cameras. One panorama was taken at 9:20 a.m. local Mars time, whereas the other was snapped at 3:40 p.m. local time.

The image represents the robot's last view of the region as it moves off to continue its ongoing mission, scouring the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater for traces of organic molecules and other possible indications that life could once have existed on Mars.

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The newly released postcard image, which has been colorized from its original black and white, shows the dramatically different lighting conditions at Marker Band Valley, with the morning-afternoon contrast revealing intricate details of the scene as seen by Curiosity.

"Anyone who's been to a national park knows the scene looks different in the morning than it does in the afternoon," Doug Ellison, a Curiosity engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement. "Capturing two times of day provides dark shadows because the lighting is coming in from the left and the right like you might have on a stage  —  but instead of stage lights, we're relying on the sun."

Ellison was part of the team that planned and processed the images to create the postcard view. Blue was added to the image to represent Curiosity's view of the morning sky, while the yellow tint was added to illustrate its view in the afternoon, NASA officials said in the statement.