Yesterday we had a look at the track of the Curiosity rover in Google Earth. We noticed that there is some very high resolution imagery of the area. We have previously experimented with getting Mars imagery into Google Earth but did not find any imagery with such high resolution. So we decided to have another look.
It appears that there are multiple orbiters each with multiple imaging systems and each camera is managed by a different organisation. The imagery we looked at previously is from the THEMIS instrument on the orbiter Mars Global Surveyor. It appears that the highest resolution imagery comes form the HiRISE instrument on the same orbiter. We found that it is possible to access the imagery at this website which also allows access to imagery from three other instruments, CTX, MOC and CRISM.
We looked for an image in the location of Curiosity and chose this one. The image is compressed using jp2, similar to Sentinel imagery. We used a tool called Irfanview to convert it to jpg. Since it is quite a large image, we chose to crop it to the location we are interested in. We then placed the image in Google Earth using an image overlay and matched it to the imagery already available.
The image was captured on March 30th, 2016. So, we used Fernando Nogal’s KML track for curiosity that we looked at yesterday to determine where Curiosity was on that date. And sure enough, we can actually see Curiosity!
Curiosity as seen in HiRISE imagery.
This suggests that it may be possible to identify the final resting place of the Schiaparelli lander, which is currently believed to have crash landed, once imagery of its expected landing zone becomes available.
To see the image in Google Earth download this KML file.