Curiosity Sends New Selfie from Red Planet

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity captured a stunning new selfie on February 26, 2020 (the 2687th Martian day, or sol, of the mission).

Source: Sci News

Curiosity recently set a record for the steepest terrain it’s ever climbed, cresting the Greenheugh Pediment, a broad sheet of rock that sits atop a hill.

And before doing that, the rover took a selfie, capturing the scene just below Greenheugh.

In front of the Curiosity is a hole it drilled while sampling a bedrock target called Hutton.

The entire selfie is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 86 images relayed to Earth.

The selfie captures the rover about 3.4 m (11 feet) below the point where it climbed onto the crumbling pediment.

Curiosity finally reached the top of the slope March 6, 2020 (Sol 2,696).

It took three drives to scale the hill, the second of which tilted the rover 31 degrees — the most the rover has ever tilted on Mars and just shy of the now-inactive Opportunity rover’s 32-degree tilt record, set in 2016.

Before the climb, Curiosity used the black-and-white Navigation Cameras located on its mast to, for the first time, record a short movie of its ‘selfie stick,’ otherwise known as its robotic arm.

Curiosity’s mission is to study whether the Martian environment could have supported microbial life billions of years ago.

One tool for doing that is the Mars Hand Lens Camera (MAHLI), located in the turret at the end of the robotic arm.

This camera provides a close-up view of sand grains and rock textures, similarly to how a geologist uses a handheld magnifying glass for a closer look in the field on Earth.

By rotating the turret to face the rover, the team can use MAHLI to show Curiosity.

Because each MAHLI image covers only a small area, it requires many images and arm positions to fully capture the rover and its surroundings.

“We get asked so often how Curiosity takes a selfie,” said Curiosity camera operator Dr. Doug Ellison, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“We thought the best way to explain it would be to let the rover show everyone from its own point of view just how it’s done.”

Source: Sci News

David Aragorn

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