NASA’s Curiosity rover is back in the spotlight after the space agency shared a recent selfie snapped by the veteran Mars explorer.
While NASA’s newer, more advanced Perseverance rover tends to get all the attention these days, Curiosity, which landed on the martian surface in 2012, continues to investigate the faraway planet in a bid to learn more about the distance location.
The latest image (below) beamed to Earth by Curiosity shows the plucky rover some way in front of the Greenheugh Pediment rock structure, while the landform viewable in the middle distance on the right is called Rafael Navarro Mountain.
According to NASA, Curiosity is now making for Maria Gordon Notch, the U-shaped opening behind the rover to the left.
NASA’s Curiosity rover took the ultrawide image using the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, located at the end of its robotic arm, which doubled as a selfie stick.
The picture is actually made up of 81 separate images taken in a way that enabled Curiosity’s arm to stay out of shot, giving it the appearance of standing alone.
Explaining how it achieves the effect, NASA said the process begins with the rover’s arm using various wrist motions and turret rotations to enable MAHLI to capture all of the component images. Having so many pictures taken from slightly different angles allows for the creation of a carefully stitched selfie in which appearances of the arm are eliminated by overlapping some of the images.
NASA also posted a cropped version of the selfie that offers a clearer look at its 9-year-old rover.
Curiosity is working in a location around 2,300 miles (3,700 km) from Perseverance, which landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021.
Its discoveries to date include evidence that persistent liquid water once existed on Mars’ surface, and that the planet once had the right conditions to support living microbes. Perseverance is continuing this work and searching for evidence of ancient microbial life.
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