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Chances of anything, coming to Mars…

NASA snapped this amazing shot during the descent and landing of the Mars rover Curiosity on August 6th. But the shiny flying disk from another planet wasn’t inhabited by Roswellian aliens – it was the newly-discarded heat shield falling from the craft after protecting it from the dangers of entering the Red Planet’s atmosphere at high velocity.

Now safely on the ground, Curiosity has just sent back its first high-resolution colour panorama of the alien landscape it now inhabits (see here for the large version).

And not to be outdone by the blow-in, the Mars rover Opportunity – which has been sending back photos of the planet for more than eight and a half years now – recently compiled this absolutely jaw-dropping 360 degree interactive panorama. Assembled from 817 images taken in the last 8 months, it shows Opportunity’s view from an outcrop informally named ‘Greeley Haven’, on the rim of Endeavour Crater.

You need to full-screen this thing, seriously. You can pan around, zoom in…it’s like you’re standing there on top of the robot, viewing the Martian landscape around you. Absolutely incredible.