NASA's Curiosity Rover Gifts Earth a Mesmerizing Timelapse of a Martian Day
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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Gifts Earth a Mesmerizing Timelapse of a Martian Day

NASA’s Curiosity rover recently took a break from science on Mars to capture a day in the life on the Red Planet. Using its black-and-white cameras, Curiosity documented a full 12 Martian hours – giving us an ultra cool timelapse of a day on Mars.

On its 4,002nd day on Mars, Curiosity pointed its front and rear hazard cameras (Hazcams) at the rocky terrain. As morning broke into afternoon into sunset, the rover snapped away.

The pics were made into mesmerizing GIFs showing Curiosity’s shadow slowly marching across the ground. We see the landscape transform from dark to light and back again.

The timelapse comes from before Mars solar conjunction, when the Sun blocks signals between Earth and Mars. With transmissions on hold, NASA sent final commands to photograph the alien vista.

The front Hazcam faces southeast, looking down the valley Curiosity’s been exploring since 2014. NASA says we witness the sky brighten at sunrise, with Curiosity’s 7-foot arm and wheels emerging from darkness.

In midday shots, the front camera uses super short exposures. But at “Martian sunset,” exposures stretch over a minute, causing sparkly noise in the images.

The rear camera points downhill towards the crater floor, catching Curiosity’s right wheel and power system shadow. Its pictures have a speckled look – the result of 11 years of Red Planet dust on the lenses!



Getting an authentic glimpse of a full Martian day is true visual storytelling. The timelapse takes us vicariously through sunrise and sunset on another world.

After over 4,000 sols alone on Mars, Curiosity used its downtime to creatively document the passage of time. The result is a perspective we can all relate to, no matter which planet we call home.