A newly released photo mosaic from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity reveals the huge robot and its exotic Red Planet landing site in crisp detail. Curiosity snapped the high-resolution self-portrait with its navigation cameras on the night of Aug. 7, just two days after it touched down inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater. NASA released the image — which is composed of 20 full-frame navcam shots — during a press conference Friday (Aug. 17).
“What’s really exciting about this is that we see the rover — a self-portrait, with the rim of Gale Crater in the background,” said Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, a geologist at Caltech in Pasadena.
The back of the rover is at the image’s left. Two of Curiosity’s three right-side wheels are visible, as are a smattering of small rocks kicked up onto the rover’s deck by its rocket-powered sky crane, which lowered Curiosity to the surface on cables. (Photos: Latest Curiosity Rover Views from Mars)
Curiosity, the centerpiece of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL), aims to determine if the Gale Crater area is, or ever was, capable of supporting microbial life. The rover will spend the next two years or more studying rocks and soil in the 96-mile-wide (155 kilometers) crater with its 10 different science instruments. Via Mars Rover Snaps 1st Hi-Res Self-Portrait