Curiosity rover takes stunning new self-portrait

New high-resolution self-portrait of Curiosity. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems

While being busy examining the Martian rocks, soil and atmosphere, the Curiosity rover can also be like a tourist, taking lots of photos of the beautiful, alien landscape around it. Tourists often like to take pictures of themselves, posing with various monuments or with a scenic background.

Curiosity is the same way, and has taken a stunning new self-portrait of itself, with Mount Sharp and part of Gale crater’s mountainous rim in the background.

The high-resolution mosaic, composed of 55 separate images, was taken using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of its robotic arm. The entire rover can be seen in exquisite detail, exactly how it currently looks in the surrounding landscape.

The four scoop marks from its first soil sampling activities can also be seen on the left side of the image.

The mosaic was taken on sol 84 of the mission (October 31, 2012) and released on November 1.

Having the rover focus on itself this way may seem rather pointless to some people, other than to take pretty pictures, but the images can also help the scientists to monitor the health of the rover by looking at such things as wear and tear on the wheels and dust accumulation, a persistent problem on a dusty planet like Mars.

Seeing the rover in this context is also a reminder that Curiosity really is exploring another world, a real place far away from home.

Larger versions of the image can be seen here and here.

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