The Mars Curiosity Rover Learned a New Camera Trick

By Mika McKinnon on at

Now this is an unusual view of the Curiosity rover on Mars! The rover is experimenting with using a different camera for self-portraits as part of its investigations at Namib dune.

Every full self-portrait we’ve seen of Curiosity before were taken with the MAHLI camera taken at the end of its arm. This means the arm was excluded from every image. Now, the rover is using the Mastcam camera on the end of its mast, excluding the mast from the photo while capturing the arm. Taking the photo isn’t easy: it’s actually a mosaic of an entire mess of frames to capture the vista.

The Mars Curiosity Rover Learned a New Camera Trick

A collage of all the individual frames used to make the mosaic, unadjusted for geometry. Image credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Emily Lakdawalla

The photo wasn’t taken just for fun: it provides a vital “before” state of the rover so that scientists can look for new grains of sand sticking to the rover as it explores the dunes.

The Mars Curiosity Rover Learned a New Camera Trick

An alternate construction of the thumbnails into a “Little Planet” version of the self-portrait. Image credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Andrew Bodrov

The photograph was taken on mission sol 1197 (December 19, 2015) below the lee face of the Namib dune. You can explore a 360° virtual reality version of the panorama here.

[Planetary Society]

Top image: The first Mastcam self-portrait of Curiosity. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Andrew Bodrov

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