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A Very Dusty Curiosity Rover Snaps a Selfie During a Work Break

The Curiosity selfie was stitched together from 59 individual images.

The Curiosity selfie was stitched collectively from 59 particular person pictures.
Picture: NASA

NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exhausting at work over the previous a number of months at a website thought to comprise historical floor supplies. And as this gorgeous new selfie reveals, the dust-covered probe is admittedly beginning to mix into its setting.

Curiosity has been exploring Mars since 2012, and it’s definitely beginning to present. With the closest automotive wash situated almost 51 million miles (82 million kilometers) away, the six-wheeled machine, lined in mud, has taken on the complexion of the Purple Planet.

The 59 photographs used to create this mosaic picture had been taken on October 25, 2020, according to a NASA assertion. Imaging specialists with the area company rigorously stitched the photographs collectively, in such a approach to take away the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Digicam (MAHLI).

A very banged-up wheel.

A really banged-up wheel.
Picture: NASA

A formidable, high-res 37 MB model of this picture will be downloaded here, which I’ve performed and made into my desktop wallpaper. A smaller model will be discovered here.

Oh, and take a look at the rover’s center wheel on the proper of the picture. Lookin’ a bit tough, however we already knew that (don’t fear, the following Mars rover, presently en route, has a lot more durable wheels).

The workhorse rover has been drilling and analyzing floor samples at a brand new website referred to as Mary Anning, which NASA mission controllers named in honor of the 19th-century English paleontologist. The title is becoming, as the positioning may present key insights into the previous. But as a substitute of trying to find Jurassic fossils, Curiosity is trying to find natural, carbon-based molecules. A key aim of the Curiosity mission is to detect indicators of previous habitability on Mars.

Three recent holes drilled by Curiosity.

Three current holes drilled by Curiosity.
Picture: NASA

Curiosity arrived on the Mary Anning website in July, the place it has drilled three holes: Mary Anning, Mary Anning 3, and Groken (named for cliffs in Scotland’s Shetland Islands). The probe can analyze the samples taken from these drill holes through the use of its built-in lab, referred to as CheMin. The ensuing information is then pored over by the staff again on Earth, in a course of that’s anticipated to take months.

From right here, Curiosity will likely be directed towards a layer of sulfate-rich rocks which can be situated at the next elevation alongside Mount Sharp. The rover ought to attain this space early subsequent yr.

Excitingly, NASA’s Perseverance rover, with its fancy extra-durable wheels, is now less than 100 days away from arriving at Mars. The following-gen rover is scheduled to land in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. Perseverance will be a part of Curiosity and the InSight lander as the one three functioning probes nonetheless engaged on the Purple Planet.

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Author

George Dvorsky