Nasa’s Curiosity rover sends back charming selfie from Mars’ Mont Mercout mountain

It also captured a panorama taken 40 meters from the outcrop

Adam Smith
Thursday 01 April 2021 16:55
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Nasa’s Curiosity rover has snapped a new selfie from the surface of Mars.

Perched on the top of the six-metre tall “Mont Mercout” mountain, named after a mountain in France, the rover took three photos: a charming image of itself, and two panoramas that let people see a 3D view of the Red Planet.

The panorama was shot approximately 40 meters from the outcrop, with the rover moving to the side and shooting another from the stame distance – creating an image similar to a 3D viewfinder – that should help scientists get a better idea of Martian geometry and the mount’s sedimentary layers.

Curiosity is shown having drilled in a nearby rock sample called Nontron, gathering data about the rock’s composition which may elucidate the mysterious history of Mars. The reason for its name comes from the fact that nontronite, a clay mineral found close to the French village of Nontron, is found on the planet.

The area captured in the images are located between the “clay-bearing unit” that Curiosity just left, and the “sulfate-bearing unit” that the rover is travelling to at Mount Sharp.

While the selfie might appear to be just one image, it is actually compromised of multiple – from many different angles. 60 images were taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm, while another 11 were taken from the Mastcam on the head of the rover.

It also did not happen in one instance: there was a ten-day period between the pictures taken from the arm and the head, between the 3060th and 3070th day that Curiosity has been on Mars.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mastcam instrument to take the 32 individual images that make up this panorama of the outcrop nicknamed “Mont Mercou.” It took a second panorama to create a stereoscopic view. Both panoramas were taken on March 4, 2021, the 3,049th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

This is far from the only image that a rover has sent across the 265.39-million-kilometre distance between Mars and the Earth. In February this year the Perseverance rover showed an image taken just moments after it landed on the planet.

Although that image is blurry from the immediate descent later ones will be much clearer, utilising the25 cameras and two microphones to their full potential.

Nasa also shared the first recording of the Perseverance rover firing off its high powered laser, with 30 recordings being beamed across space.

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