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Tour the Martian Mojave in 3-D

NASA / JPL / James Canvin / Martian Vistas

This stereo image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the view looking out toward the rim of Gale Crater on Mars. Put on red-blue glasses to get the 3-D effect.


Two dimensions just aren't enough to get a sense of the Earthlike terrain that surrounds NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars — fortunately, weather researcher and former astronomer James Canvin adds some depth to the view in this 3-D version of a partial panorama from Curiosity's navigation cameras.

We're using a cropped version of Canvin's anaglyph, which shows the view looking northwest toward Gale Crater's eroded rim. You'll have to visit Canvin's Martian Vistas website to see the full wide-screen image.


If you put on red-blue spectacles, you can clearly make out the rolling terrain between the rover and the rim. In the foreground, there are two spots that have apparently been carved out by blasts from the rover's descent-stage thrusters. The 3-D stitching process results in a bit of visual discontinuity around one of the spots, but you get the idea.

Most of Curiosity's cameras come in pairs, including the Navcams as well as the color Mastcam imagers, so we can look forward to many more stereo views over the coming years. But to see red-blue pictures like this in their full 3-D glory, you'll need special specs — which you can order from NASA's list of providers or perhaps find at a local novelty shop.

We usually do a 3-D glasses giveaway on Fridays, as part of the "Where in the Cosmos" picture quiz on the Cosmic Log Facebook page. Be sure to click the "like" button for Cosmic Log on Facebook and get ready for Friday's giveaway.

Justin Maki of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory guides you through the first images from the navigation cameras on the Mars Curiosity rover, including a low-resolution panorama.

More about Mars:


Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other science and space stories, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. Also, check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.