Mars rover, Curiosity, takes a self-portrait and shares it with the world

Mars rover, Curiosity's, profile photoWe’ve all seen some breath-taking images of the Mars landscape taken by Curiosity, but until now we haven’t had a chance to appreciate the rover’s own good looks. Most of us are used to taking our self-portraits using the bathroom mirror (or a front-facing camera if you don’t mind the low quality), but Curiosity has earned the distinction of taking the first vanity pic from another planet using its MAHLI camera.

In the picture that proves we’re already living in the future, we get a great view of Curiosity’s face that’s very reminiscent of Pixar’s adorable and strangely anthropomorphic robot from Wall-E. It’s an oddly hypnotic photo, driving home the reality that robots are no longer stuck in the pages of science fiction novels.

To break down what we’re seeing (the rover’s mast or head), let’s clear up the misconception that the circular piece of glass on the right-hand side of the photo is Curiosity’s eye. The rover actually has four “eyes”, which we’ll get to in a minute, but the big lens up there is a bad-ass piece of equipment. According to NBC, the “eye” is actually an incredibly powerful laser capable of vaporizing rock. On top of that, it’s able to record the chemical signature contained in the flash of light created by the vaporization. The smaller bits below Curiosity’s “face” are various cameras responsible for taking some gorgeous photos of the Mars vista. The four smaller ones are the high-resolution Navcam imagers that snap pictures in black-and-white. The two larger ones make up the Mastcam imaging system, able to take photos in full color.

The original picture wasn’t as clear as the touched-up one above due to Curiosity’s dust-cover that has yet to be removed, it was also taken from an inverted angle. Thankfully, the old image was retouched, rotated, and cleaned up by Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society. Lakdawalla improved the image for a recent blog entry where she also created a humorous meme from the photo that you should definitely take a look at.

There will be more, higher quality self-portraits released in the coming weeks after the dust-cap is removed and Curiosity finds some more time to snap personal pics. Who knows, maybe the Mars rover will go down in history not for braving the new frontiers of another planet, but for being the first robot to learn how to take a flattering profile photo.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.

Xiaomi is preparing to set records with 48-megapixel phone camera

Bigger doesn't always mean better, but it certainly makes headlines. Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi is set to release a phone camera with a staggeringly large 48 megapixels on a single sensor.
Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…