While NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover has been grabbing headlines lately, its Curiosity rover has been on the Red Planet since 2012 and just sent back a gigantic 318-megapixel selfie that depicts it in front of Mont Mercou, a rock outcropping on the surface of Mars.
“The panorama is made up of 60 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm on March 26, 2021, the 3,070th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. These were combined with 11 images taken by the Mastcam on the mast, or “head,” of the rover on March 16, 2021, the 3,060th Martian day of the mission,” NASA explains.
You can download the massive 105.2MB full resolution image here.
There is a small hole in the ground just to the left of the rover in the image above, and that is where it used a robotic drill to pull in a sample. This particular rock sample is nicknamed “Nontron,” as the Curiosity team is nicknaming features in this part of Mars using names from the region around the village of Nontron in southwestern France.
The Curiosity Rover has been sending back selfies now for almost a decade. In 2013, the Curiosity rover sent back a stunning self-portrait showing both the surface below the rover as well as the dust-filled sky. The next year, the rover celebrated its one-year anniversary with another selfie taken from a closer perspective.
The Curiosity Rover has also recently sent back a couple of other panoramic images from its location, including a three-dimensional stereoscopic photo. The rover used its Mastcam instrument to take the 32 individual images that make up this panorama of the Mont Mercou outcropping and combined it with a second panorama that it captured from 13 feet to the side.
The gif below illustrates the three-dimensional effect:
“Both panoramas were taken on March 4, 2021, the 3,049th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, from a distance of about 130 feet (40 meters) from the cliff face, which is about 20 feet (6 meters) tall,” NASA writes. “They have been white-balanced so that the colors of the rock materials resemble how they would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth.”
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS