Archive for December, 2012

Map context for Curiosity images

December 26, 2012

Curiosity has taken over 30,000 images so far in its first four months on Mars. The rover has covered about 700 meters of terrain to date and it can be a challenge to figure out just where a given image was taken from in Gale Crater. The official NASA raw images website doesn’t provide information on where the images were taken or what in direction the camera was pointing.

Luckily, such information is available, albeit with the help of some tricky software, from the NASA Navigation and Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF). NAIF data files for MSL are updated roughly once a day in an unofficial directory on theNAIF website. I updated the raw image browser at to have a “map it” link next to each image that gives a side-by-side view of a given image next to a map of the camera context:






A red wedge from the camera position on the map shows the approximate field of view for the given camera. The map can be panned/zoomed. The highest resolution is 4 meters per pixel from the MRO HiRISE camera. Zooming out eventually brings in the MRO CTX camera and Google Mars imagery at lower resolutions.