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Curiosity Rover Takes Detailed Self-Portrait on Mars

RIA Novosti

04:54 29/12/2012

WASHINGTON, December 29 (RIA Novosti) - A series of photos taken by NASA's Curiosity and combined into a single composite picture offer a rare, detailed glimpse of the rover patrolling the surface of Mars on a rocky terrain with its target destination—Mount Sharp—in the background.

The full-color picture – which shows Curiosity in a desert-like environment surrounded by its own tire tracks – is actually a mosaic of dozens of high-resolution images taken by a camera located on the rover's robotic arm, called the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

"Self-portraits like this one document the state of the rover and allow mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheelwear," NASA stated on its website, where the picture was featured as its image of the day on Thursday.

The pictures, captured on October 31 and November 1, show Curiosity at "Rocknest," an area where the rover took its first sampling of the Martian planet.

In November, NASA released another portrait of Curiosity that was created out of 55 pictures but said it doesn't provide the expansive view of Mount Sharp that this latest mosaic does.

Curiosity landed safely on the Red Planet on August 6.

NASA's goal for the rover's mission is to determine if life exists now or has in the past, to characterize the climate and geology, and prepare for future human exploration on Mars.

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