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Take 360-Degree Tours of Mars and the Moon

Earth's neighbors have never seemed so tantalizingly close

smithsonian.com

Do you long to go to space? With space tourism stalled and NASA’s Mars mission years away, you probably won’t be able to get up close and personal with Earth’s neighbors any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience them, thanks to two new 360-degree views of Mars and the moon.

NASA recently released a 360-degree interactive video of the surface of Mars captured by the Curiosity rover. Viewers can click and drag the image to virtually explore Namib Dune, one of a series of sand dunes currently being climbed by Curiosity in search of more information on extraterrestrial dunes.

The red planet’s scant atmosphere and lower gravity poses intriguing questions for researchers, according to a recent press release from NASA. They want to understand the rapid movement of the dunes, which migrate by as much as one yard per Earth year. Curiosity got a good look as it slowly heads up Mount Sharp, which it’s been exploring since 2014.


Meanwhile, closer to Earth, the lunar terrain still has the ability to enthrall. A new 360 video uses images from Chang’e 3, the Chinese lunar rover that began to explore the moon in 2013. The full-color panorama brings the rocky, forsaken surface of the moon into view, offering a whole new perspective on Earth’s closest satellite.

Though Chang’e 3 has long since completed its mission, it recently made its way back into the news when China released thousands of high-res photos from the lander—enough to whet any would-be space explorer’s appetite.

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