NASA’s Curiosity rover has sent back a couple of selfie photos from its Martian home, offering both a beautiful and tragically empty view of its red, rocky surroundings.
Amid the furore that surrounded many space missions in 2015, some of our harder-working machines have fallen off the media map.
We’ve had ESA’s monumental Rosetta mission, chasing down a comet before sending Philae onto its surface to run some science tests.
We’ve had NASA’s New Horizons mission, speeding towards a planet that was rendered no longer such, long before it sent us back perhaps the most beautiful planetary image yet.
A diligent worker
Throughout these events, though, some didn’t react. Some didn’t look to the skies in wonder, passing comments on Twitter about how “it’s great, but…”
Some, like the Curiosity rover on Mars, just kept on working. And now, with interest in Pluto, Comet 67p and Earth 2.0 finally receding to normal levels, it’s striking for its moment of fame.
For Curiosity has sent us back a selfie. A wonderful, expansive, no doubt expensive selfie, primed for exposure on E!
Currently mining for goods in the ‘Marias Pass’ region of the red planet, Curiosity used the camera on its robotic arm for multiple images to be stitched into a self-portrait at the drilling site.
Five fleeting minutes of fame
While taking a break from digging up to sample a rock target called ‘Buckskin’, Curiosity took its own moment of reflection, allowing NASA to produce some masterful selfies.
Curiosity’s latest mission is actually pretty huge. The Marias Pass is filled with this Buckskin, which NASA researchers want to investigate, as the area’s rocks have significantly higher levels of silica and hydrogen than expected.
“The ground about one metre beneath the rover in this area holds three or four times as much water as the ground anywhere else Curiosity has driven during its three years on Mars,” said Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute, Moscow.
While studies into the substance continue, Curiosity made a beeline for Mount Sharp, bringing its total distance covered on mission to an impressive 11.1km.
Body image full-size version of main, with final image a “Round-Horizon” version, all via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS