While much recent attention has been given to the latest rover to land on Mars, Perseverance, the Curiosity rover is still working on the red planet. Curiosity has been on Mars for more than 3,000 sols (Martian days) and has captured nearly 800,000 images. Curiosity’s latest image is a composite of 71 images captured by a pair of cameras, and the new image looks like Curiosity snapped a selfie.
The new image shows Curiosity in front of ‘Mont Mercou,’ a rock outcrop that stands 20′ (6m) tall. The panorama comprises 60 shots captured by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm on March 26, 2021, the 3,070th sol of the Curiosity mission. These shots were combined by 11 images shot by the Mastcam on Curiosity’s ‘head.’ Those 11 shots were captured on March 16, the 3,060th sol of the mission. To download a massive version of the new panorama, visit NASA.
The small hole visible to the left of the rover is where Curiosity’s robotic drill sampled a rock. The rock has been nicknamed ‘Nontron.’ NASA says that the Curiosity team is nicknaming features in this part of Mars using names from the region around the village of Nontron in southwestern France.
In addition to the new image shown above, NASA also published a 360-degree panorama of Curiosity’s view approaching Mont Mercou. You can see the image below, but for the full impact, you must visit NASA. The panorama is made up of 126 individual images captured on March 3, 2021. The panorama has been white-balanced, such that the colors of the rocks resemble how they would appear under daytime conditions on Earth.
As additional background on Curiosity, the rover is about the size of a small SUV. It’s 10′ (3m) long, 9′ (2.7m) wide and 7′ (2.2m) tall. The rover weighs 1,982 lbs (899kg) on Earth, but it weighs 743 lbs in Mars gravity due to the difference in gravity. The mission objective is to search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life and search for conditions favorable to preserving records of past life.
Curiosity launched on November 26, 2011, and landed on Mars on August 5, 2012. The original mission lasted a Martian year, which is about 23 Earth months. Since then, Curiosity has continued to operate, and its mission has been extended indefinitely. Curiosity just keeps going!
|Captured in 2015, this self-portrait of Curiosity shows the rover at the ‘Big Sky’ site, where its drill collected the mission’s fifth taste of Mount Sharp. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS|
Perseverance recently released the launch lock on its onboard Ingenuity helicopter, which is a momentous occasion and a big accomplishment for the team. You can see that below. To learn more about Ingenuity, check out our prior coverage.
|‘NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter extends vertically into place after being rotated outward from its horizontal position on the belly of the Perseverance rover on March 29, 2021, the 38th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was taken by the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, located at the end of the rover’s long robotic arm.’ For additional information, click here. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.|
For further reading on Curiosity, check out the following articles we’ve published about the rover over the years:
- August 7, 2012: NASA’s Curiosity rover sends back first color images from Mars
- August 8, 2012: Mars rover camera project manager explains 2MP camera choice
- August 11, 2017: NASA Curiosity rover captures rare photographs of clouds on Mars
- March 9, 2020: NASA Curiosity rover breaks its own record with 1.8-billion-pixel Mars panorama