NASA's Curiosity Rover took a stunning selfie
NASA's shiny new Perseverance rover has been getting all the attention lately, but Curiosity is still on Mars. This aging robot is still young and trendy enough to take selfies - heck, Curiosity first developed a selfie on the rover. The latest image shows the rover posing in front of a large outcrop of rock, which the team named "Mont Mercu" after the French mountain.
Mont Mercu is a long way from the mountain, but the Curiosity team found it interesting enough from a geological point of view to get a name. It is about six meters high and is fully visible behind the rover. That's not all you can see in this photo - there's a tiny drilled hole right in front of Curiosity. NASA has dubbed the site "Nonton" after a village located near the real Mont Mercou in France. The team chose French nicknames for the region because Mars orbiters had previously discovered a clay mineral called nontronite, which is found in large quantities in the Nontron region.
The Nontron sample was loaded into the rover's science instruments, making it the 30th sample analyzed by the rover in more than 3,000 sols (more than eight earth years) on the red planet. This is something Perseverance will be doing a lot of, as it roams the red planet and stores samples for a later mission to return to Earth.
Curiosity took this selfie with a surprisingly large number of pictures taken on two different days. The background consists of 11 images taken by Mastcam at 3060 sol, which you probably know as the" head " of the rover. The selfie part of the image consists of 60 separate frames taken with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) for 3070 sol. This camera is located on the robot's manipulator, which allows it to move and shoot images from different angles. When processing the frames into one huge photo, NASA can cut out an arm to make the image look as if it was taken by someone standing next to the robot. As far as we know, there is no one on Mars to take such photos.
NASA also used the Mastcam to take 32 images of Mon-Merc. The team reworked this into a stereoscopic image - you can use the anaglyph above to see the nudity in 3D with matching glasses.
Curiosity is still setting records on Mars, and it's not going to stop. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014, exploring the planet's stratification as it progresses. Curiosity is currently in a region that is transitioning from clay geology to sulfate geology. The mission has been extended indefinitely, so Curiosity will continue climbing for as long as it can.