"(BBC, August 9, 2012) Nasa's new Mars rover has returned its first 360-degree colour panorama from the surface of the Red Planet.
The Curiosity robot used its wideangle science camera placed high up on a mast to acquire the frames.
The low-resolution vista shows at centre the big mountain that lies in the middle of Gale Crater, the deep depression in which the rover landed.
Curiosity's ultimate goal is to drive towards this peak - informally known as Mount Sharp - to study its rocks.
"This is a very low-resolution panorama," explained Mike Malin, the principal investigator on the rover's Mastcam cameras.
"The individual frames are only 144 by 144 pixels. There are 130 of them in there. It took us about an hour and six minutes to take the mosaic.
"For the full-resolution panorama, the data volume will be 64 times larger, [and] the resolution will be eight times better. But this was pretty enough and interesting enough that we thought it was worth sharing with you guys," he told BBC News.
The colour is what the camera saw. Apart from the process of blending the individual frames, the only modification made was to brighten the image slightly.
Pictures are deliberately acquired underexposed so as not to saturate any bright regions in the field of view..."