Published: Sat, February 03, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

NASA turns selfies by Mars rover into stunning self-portrait

NASA turns selfies by Mars rover into stunning self-portrait

Curiosity's impressive panorama stretches across more than 30 miles and shows the route that the rover has taken since 2012.

The north and south rims of Gale Crater flank this far-out image, with the 15,000-foot Mount Sharp poking up in the far distance.

The photo itself is actually a mosaic of images taken on January 23, 2018 by Curiosity's Mars Hands Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Curiosity's arm or the MAHLI camera aren't in the shot.

At least, you would be able to see all of it were Curiosity's mast/"head" not blocking the view.

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The reason behind the celebratory images is that the Curiosity Rover has now sent back more than a gigabit of data "during a single relay session from Mars for the first time in history".

A vantage point on "Vera Rubin Ridge" provided NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on February 2, 2018.

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, pausing in its exploration of the red planet, snapped a selfie on the side of Mount Sharp, showing the floor of Gayle Crater below and the upper reaches of the 5.5-kilometer-high (3.4-mile-high ) mountain above.

The team is preparing to resume use of Curiosity's drill for acquiring powdered rock samples to be analysed by laboratory instruments inside the rover, more than a year after the most recent of the 15 times the drill has pulled sample material from Martian rocks.

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The nuclear-powered mobile science laboratory has been slowly roving across the surface of Mars since 2012, searching for evidence of the conditions that once made the planet capable of sustaining life.

"The mountain's base provides access to layers formed over millions of years", NASA officials wrote in a description of the selfie, which was released Wednesday (Jan. 31).

The Curiosity is NASA's longest-running rover and has traveled more than 28 miles since 2004. These layers formed in the presence of water - likely due to a lake or lakes that sat at the bottom of the mountain, which sits inside Gale Crater. Liftoff is targeted for May from California.

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