The picture was taken by NASA robot "Phoenix". It shows the area surrounding the stationary lander, which arrived at its destination on May 25th 2008. The position at 62 degrees north latitude corresponds to Alaska or Finland on Earth. Phoenix used its robotic arm to deliver soil samples to various instruments on board. The places where Phoenix dug into the soil are visible in the panorama. The left trench still shows the water ice which later sublimated into the thin Martian atmosphere. The mast with a small dangling weight is part of the meteorological instrumentation. It is used to measure wind speed and direction.
The panorama is comprised of ca. 400 images, which were taken at different times of day. This causes the lighting and shadows in the panorama to be irregular. The sky is an extrapolation from a narrow band of sky above the horizon, so the sun is not in the picture. The entire panorama has been lightly contrast enhanced to improve immersion. Based on images courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University Arizona/Texas A&M University.
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