The highest-resolution image ever taken of another planet’s surface was posted on NASA’s site today.
The Martian horizon is an 8 megabyte jpg with a resolution of 3498×3851.
It’s weird how the media is getting so excited about this current mission, especially considering that they got just as excited back in 1997 for the Mars Pathfinder mission, which was effectively the same basic thing – land a wheeled rover on the surface of Mars after dropping it down to the surface within a pyramid-shaped balloon.
And remember, we took lots of pictures from the surface of Mars back in 1975 with the Viking mission! You’ll never hear them talk about Viking in the news, though.
And yeah, it is exciting for sure! Having things like higher-resolution photos of Mars and more accurate soil analyzing equipment are worth getting excited about. I think the national media are just in it for the photos though.
We sure have dumped a lot of stuff on the surface of Mars. Apparently the surface is such a hostile environment that NASA only gave the Sojourner rover (from Pathfinder) a life expectancy of one week. (It actually wound up working for nearly three months!)
You know what would be hilarious? If Spirit sent back a series of photos of a hatch opening up underneath the soil, then pissed-off aliens getting out and flipping off the camera, holding up signs that say stuff like “HEY! ENOUGH! You wanna go crap up someone else’s planet, feel free, but we try to keep it clean in the upstairs department, ya know?” That won’t happen. But it could.