Get a 360-degree view of monster dune on Mars

Image: Mars panorama
A portion of a 360-degree panorama captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows a portion of a 16-foot-high sand dune on Mars, with the summit of Mount Sharp in the far background. The bottom of the image is distorted due to the 360-degree effect. (Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS)

The 16-foot-high sand dune that NASA’s Curiosity rover has been skirting around on Mars looks even more imposing in a 360-degree panoramic view you can explore on the Internet.

NASA passed along the spherical panorama, as well as a red-blue version suitable for 3-D viewing, in an image advisory posted today. But panorama prestidigitator Andrew Bodrov got an early crack at the imagery. Even before Christmas, Bodrov posted the picture as a 360-degree panorama you can spin around on your screen. See it full screen for the best results – and if you’re a virtual-reality developer, put it on your list for the full headset treatment.

The dominant feature is Namib Dune, a huge pile of grayish-reddish sand that has been built up by the action of Martian winds. It’s part of the Bagnold Dunes, a series of sandy slopes that line the northwest flank of 3-mile-high Mount Sharp.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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