Selfie Level: Mars

On August 5th, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover pointed the camera on its robotic arm towards itself, taking 92 photos that were pieced together to form a single selfie.

The pictures were taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), mounted on Curiosity’s robotic arm during the rover’s 1,065th Martian day on the planet.

Curiosity’s selfie was taken in the Marias Pass region, a site where it had just drilled into a rock named “Buckskin”, to analyse a sample using its internal laboratory.

Curiosity has taken selfies before, but for this photoshoot, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory oriented the camera much lower to face the rover’s body, additionally capturing the rock samples taken from Buckskin in the photo.

The selfie does not depict the majority of Curiosity’s robotic arm, as it was positioned out of frame in order to capture the picture; however, the arm’s shadow and the shadow of the tools used to drill the rock sample can be seen on the ground.

Oriented northeast, Mount Sharp can be spotted behind Curiosity, while the northern edge of Gale Crater can be seen to the left and right of the rover along the horizon.
The rover first reached Mount Sharp in September 2014.

Marias Pass was chosen as a route to the higher levels of Mount Sharp because the area is rich in silica and hydrogen, indicating that water may have been bound to minerals in the region in the past.

Principal Investigator Igor Mitrofanov at the Space Research Institute in Moscow said, “The ground about one metre beneath the rover in this area holds three or four times as much water as the ground anywhere else Curiosity has driven during its three years on Mars.”
Studying these geological conditions can unlock information about historic changes in the Martian environment.

On 12 August 2015, the rover concluded its time in Marias Pass and has since started its journey southwest.

Since its landing in August 2012, Curiosity has travelled 11.1 kilometres.

Curiosity’s mission now focuses on the search for evidence that can answer questions about how the Mars environment dried out.