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Fri November 2, 2012
Spooky self-portrait by Curiosity rover
On Mars, Curiosity took a moment or two for self-identification, as if to say, this is me on Mars. The composite image however, almost looks as if Curiosity had a visitor.
NASA's Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture this set of 55 high-resolution images, which were stitched together to create this full-color self-portrait.
The mosaic shows the rover at "Rocknest," the spot in Gale Crater where the mission's first scoop sampling took place. Four scoop scars can be seen in the regolith in front of the rover.
The base of Gale Crater's 3-mile-high (5-kilometer) sedimentary mountain, Mount Sharp, rises on the right side of the frame. Mountains in the background to the left are the northern wall of Gale Crater. The Martian landscape appears inverted within the round, reflective ChemCam instrument at the top of the rover's mast.
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 wheel wear. Due to its location on the end of the robotic arm, only MAHLI (among the rover's 17 cameras) is able to image some parts of the craft, including the port-side wheels.
This high-resolution mosaic is a more detailed version of the low-resolution version created with thumbnail images, at: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16238 .