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Mars rover beams amazing panorama back to Earth (+video)

NASA's Mars Opportunity Rover has sent us a postcard, a stunning panorama view of the Red Planet, stitched together from 817 different images taken over six months.

During the three-year trek of NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater, rover planners captured a horizon photograph at the end of each drive. 309 images taken during the 13-mile journey appear in this video.
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A long-lived NASA rover on Mars has beamed home a stunning panoramic view of the Red Planet, a spectacular panorama that a space agency description billed as the "next best thing to being there."

The new Martian panorama was snapped by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity, a six-wheeled robot that has spent more than eight years exploring the Red Planet. The image shows a full-circle view of Mars near a spot called "Greeley Haven," where Opportunity hunkered down during its last Martian winter.

"The view provides rich geologic context for the detailed chemical and mineral work that the team did at Greeley Haven over the rover's fifth Martian winter, as well as a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we've driven to yet with either rover over the course of the mission," said Jim Bell of Arizona State University in Tempe, the lead scientists for Opportunity's Pancam imaging system, in a statement today (July 5).

Opportunity's new Mars panorama is actually a mosaic of 817 different images combined like a giant puzzle to make one huge image. It shows a stark landscape broken only by the Opportunity rover's own tracks and the robot's solar array.

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