The Coolest Thing on Earth: Looking Around Mars on Your Phone

More

Take out your phone and click on the link below. Just do it.

marsroverpano615.jpg

Updated, 12:10pm.

This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Not the photo above, but what lies through that link.

Pause: As per the instructions of Joel Housman who first recommended this, you need to be on an iPhone or iPad, or maybe a tablet browser, for it to have its full effect. On an iPad or iPhone, you should open it in Safari, not a Twitter client's browser. But then just click the link.

This is a 360 degree view of the planet Mars.

If you move the phone in any direction, it acts as a window, and the view moves with it. If you look down, you see the rocks and gravel of Mars. If you point the phone up, you see the small sun and the planet's sour sky. If you look to the horizon and tilt your phone, you see the rocks and dirt close to you move faster than the furthest points; it feels like you're standing there. Just try it, even if you have to borrow someone's phone. 

Show it to your parents. Show it to your kids. If you're a teacher, start the first day of school by passing around your iPhone and saying, "This is why you're learning math."

Here is what this visualization has shocked me into: Mars, through this app, isn't a series of inquiries or a collection of images. It's a planet. It has a horizon, and there are a thounsand thousand views of that horizon. It has rocks, and there are a thousand thousand of those. It looks upon a sun, in a sky, which, from any vantage point, might look any of a thousand thousand ways.

Mars is a planet, full of places.

This view demands wonder. For this view, of another planet's horizon, of another planet that's just a single clump of matter out from ours, in just one galaxy that happens to be ours in the universe. There are countless horizons like this, horizons beyond our reckoning.

UPDATE: To maximize enjoyment, some of Curiosity's images were altered or augmented. Carl Franzen, at Talking Points Memo, explains the process.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In