New panoramic Mars video puts you on the red planet before Elon Musk

Mars has been in the news a lot just lately, and it’s fair to say it’s unlikely to be fading from the headlines anytime soon. Elon Musk has just said he wants to send a rocket there by 2018, China’s also making plans to visit the red planet in the next few years, and some physicist guy recently said it may one day be possible to reach get from Earth in a mere 30 minutes – instead of around nine months.

Of course, the day humans step foot on its barren, dusty surface is still a ways off, though a new panoramic video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab offers the next best experience if you’re at all curious about what it might be like to actually visit the fourth planet from the sun.

The imagery was shot earlier this month by the Mast Camera – aka Mastcam – on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which has been puttering around the planet’s surface for the last four years.

“The view combines dozens of images taken during the mission’s 1,302nd sol, or Martian day, by Mastcam’s left-eye camera from a location on top of what rover team members call ‘Naukluft Plateau’ on lower Mount Sharp, which stands inside Gale Crater,” NASA explains.

The visible roughness of the terrain has been taking its toll on Curiosity rover, which has so far trundled across about eight miles of the Martian landscape.

“Holes and tears in the rover’s aluminum wheels became noticeable in 2013,” NASA said in a statement, adding that as a result it’s had to reroute the rover across more suitable ground.

There’s no cause for alarm, however, as the space agency says rover’s “cracks and punctures have been gradually accumulating at the pace we anticipated, based on testing we performed.”

So with slightly battered wheels, Curiosity is set to continue exploring other parts of Mount Sharp, which should bring Mars fans more 360-degree imagery such as the one above and this stunner, shot earlier in the year. Besides snapping some fancy photos, scientists are hoping Curiosity will help them gain a better understanding of “how long ancient environmental conditions remained favorable for microbial life, if it was ever present on Mars, before conditions became drier and less favorable.”

Most of the sky and rover hardware have been excluded from the final image as they were deemed irrelevant to this particular project, the space agency said. You can explore the scene by dragging the image around with a mouse, though for a better effect take a look at it using your smartphone or a VR headset.

Emerging Tech

Ancient continent discovered beneath the ice of Antarctica

Antarctica could be hiding the remains of a long-lost continent. Scientists created a 3D map of the crust beneath the Antarctic ice sheet which shows a similarity to the crust in Australia and India, suggesting they used to be joined.
Emerging Tech

Curiosity rover active and drilling again after computer issue

The Curiosity rover has succeeded in drilling a hole into the tough bedrock that previously defeated it, allowing imaging and collection of samples. The rover had been incapacitated for a few weeks due to problems with its computer.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale smashes online shopping records

The annual online shopping frenzy that is Singles' Day this year raked in $30.8 billion, up from $25 billion last time around. The Alibaba-organized event generates more in sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
Emerging Tech

Watch this lab-grown heart tissue beat just like the real thing

A team of researchers in Germany have used stem cells to create a lab-grown human heart tissue which actually beats, as well as responding to drugs in the same way as the real thing.
Emerging Tech

Michigan’s former transportation chief has some advice for wannabe smart cities

After 31 years as Michigan’s transportation director, Kirk Steudle has seen it all, particularly with smart city projects. He spoke with Digital Trends recently about what makes smart cities work, and offers advice along the way.
Emerging Tech

Shipping crate filled with 3D-printing robots may be the future of construction

Autodesk has created a robot-filled shipping container which may represent the future of construction work. The crate contains two robots able to 3D print custom components for building sites.
Emerging Tech

Sticking these tiny needles in your eye may help fight blindness

An eye patch covered in tiny needles sounds like a torture device. In fact, it's a potential new medical treatment for eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Bottle-flipping robots may be the most millennial thing we’ve ever seen

Until drones start vaping, you're unlikely to see anything more millennial than a recent contest in Japan in which robots competed to pull off some seriously impressive bottle-flipping feats.
Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.

Car parts maker ZF is using drones to deliver components to its factories

ZF recently became the first entity in Germany to receive approval to use drones to deliver spare parts, and the company now uses them to deliver parts from its central warehouses to its workshops.
Emerging Tech

Meet the 4K selfie drone that folds like a book, follows you like a paparrazzo

Having a drone that could follow you everywhere while taking high-quality images without crashing has been a flight of fantasy. With ZeroZero's Hover 2, not only can you have a fully autonomous 4K selfie drone, you can have it for $400.
Emerging Tech

These Alexa-stuffed retro phones don’t listen until you take them off the hook

Looking for an Amazon Echo with a cool vintage touch? Los Angeles-based Grain Design is taking old, non-working antique phones and transforming them into amazing Alexa smart speakers.