This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter. (Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizo)
A new rover on the block, NASA's Curiosity is set to land on Mars territory on August 5.
Curiosity has been on a non-stop cruise towards the red planet since its launch in November 26, 2011 and less than four weeks will pass before the 2,000 lb rover makes its landing attempt on red soil.
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Although no problems have been detected in the initial outlooks, the "7 minutes of terror", Curiosity will spend attempting to safely descend on Martian soil, will require "sophisticated mechanics and precision timing" according to Space.
The landing will consist in a series of programmed procedures and the rover's signals to Earth will take 14 minutes to reach meaning that scientists will not have any way to communicate with the rover until after it has landed.
The shuttle will use thrusters, deploy parachutes and although NASA recently narrowed the landing field for Curiosity because it is so confident in the precision-landing gear, things at the space agency will remain tense until the rover sends the final update on the process.
Curiosity will be landing on Gale Crater in a mission to find proof over whether life ever existed in the planet or not.
NASA recently released a high definition picture taken by another rover, Opportunity, on another crater, called Endeavour Crater.
The panoramic view captured by Opportunity may perhaps resemble what the landscape for Curiosity will look like once the golf-cart-sized rover begins its mission.
The image actually represents a series of images Opportunity's onboard camera, Pancam, took between the dates of Dec. 21, 2011 and May 8, 2012, (Martian winter).
Curiosity's mission is planned to continue for 686 days.
Click Image for expanded view.