Say Cheese! NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover takes a selfie with the 6 meter high rock formation ‘Mont Mercou’
- NASA’s Curiosity rover took the selfie after collecting its 30th sample
- Mont Mercou is a rock formation on Mars named after a mountain in France
- The selfie is composed of 60 photos taken by Curiosity’s Hand Lens Imager on March 26 – the 3070th day of the mission
At first glance at this image, you’d be forgiven for seeing it as a still from the latest sci-fi blockbuster.
But the photo is very real and was snapped this week by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.
The selfie shows the rover next to a rock formation called ‘Mont Mercou’, a nickname coming from a mountain in France.
And while the photo is impressive in itself, it was actually taken to celebrate Curiosity’s 30th monster to date, after the rover drilled a hole in a nearby rock monster nicknamed ‘Nontron’.
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The selfie shows the rover next to a rock formation called ‘Mont Mercou’, a nickname coming from a mountain in France
THREE MISSIONS TO MARS IN 2021: US, UAE AND CHINA ON OR ON THE RED PLANET
So far, 2021 has been the ‘year of Mars’ with three spaceships from Earth arriving on the red planet.
Earth’s first visitor to arrive was also a first for the Arab world – the United Arab Emirates’ Hope probe.
This spaceship will track the weather on Mars for an entire year.
The second ship was from China – Tianwen-1 will orbit Mars until May, when it will deploy a rover.
This makes China only the second country after the US to land a rover on Mars if it succeeds.
NASA’s Persistence was the last of three to orbit Mars, but the first to land on the Red Planet.
The Mont Mercou of Mars is named after a mountain in France, located near the village of Nontron in the southeast of the country.
NASA explained, “The team chose Nontron-related nicknames for this part of the Red Planet because Mars orbiters discovered nontronite, a type of clay mineral found near Nontron in the region.
“Surface missions assign nicknames to landmarks to provide mission team members with a common way of referring to rocks, soils, and other interesting geological features.”
After Curiosity took its 30th sample, it pulverized the rock before it trickled into instruments in the rover, allowing scientists to better understand the rock composition.
“This area is at the junction between the ‘clay-bearing unit’ Curiosity departs and the ‘sulfate-bearing unit’ that is at the forefront of Mount Sharp, the three-mile mountain that has been rolling up the rover since 2014,” NASA said.
“Scientists have long thought that this transition could reveal what happened to Mars when it became the desert planet we see today.”
The selfie is composed of 60 photos taken by Curiosity’s Hand Lens Imager on March 26 – the 3070th day of the mission.
These 60 photos were combined with 11 photos taken by Curiosity’s Mastcam of the rover on March 16.
The Curiosity rover also took some panoramas with its Mastcam camera on March 4
Curiosity also made a few panoramas with the Mastcam on March 4.
NASA explained: ‘By photographing one panorama from about 40 meters from the outcrop, then rolling it to the side and photographing another from the same distance, the rover created a stereoscopic effect similar to that used by 3D viewfinders.
‘By studying the outcrop from more than one angle, scientists get a better idea of the 3D geometry of the sedimentary layers of Mount Mercou.’
Curiosity is the largest and most capable rover ever sent to Mars and part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission.
It was launched from Earth on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars almost a year later, on August 5, 2012.
The rover’s main mission is to unravel the mystery as to whether Mars ever had the right conditions to support life.
NASA added: “Early on in its mission, Curiosity’s scientific instruments found chemical and mineral evidence of past habitable environments on Mars.
“It continues to explore rock from a time when Mars could have been home to microbial life.”
NASA MARS CURIOSITY ROVER LAUNCHED IN 2011 AND HAS IMPROVED OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RED PLANET
The Mars Curiosity rover was initially launched from Cape Canaveral, a United States Air Force station in Florida on November 26, 2011.
After embarking on a 350 million mile (560 million km) journey, the £ 1.8 billion ($ 2.5 billion) research vehicle landed just 1.5 miles from its intended landing site.
After a successful landing on August 6, 2012, the rover traveled approximately 18 km.
It was launched on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, and the rover made up 23 percent of the mass of the total mission.
With 80 kg (180 lb) of scientific instruments on board, the rover weighs a total of 899 kg (1,982 lb) and is powered by a plutonium fuel source.
The rover is 2.9 meters long, 2.7 meters wide and 2.2 meters high.
The Mars Curiosity Rover was originally intended as a two-year mission to gather information to help answer the question of whether the planet could support life, has liquid water, is studying the climate and geology of Mars, and has been active for more than 2,000 days since. been.
The rover was initially intended as a two-year mission to gather information to help answer the question of whether the planet can support life, have liquid water, and study the climate and geology of Mars.
Due to its success, the mission has been extended indefinitely and has now been active for more than 2,000 days.
The rover has several scientific instruments on board, including the mastcam which consists of two cameras and can take high-resolution images and videos in real color.
So far on the robot’s journey the size of a car he has encountered an ancient stream bed where liquid water used to flow, not long after he also discovered that billions of years ago a nearby area known as Yellowknife Bay was part of a lake that could have sustained microbial life.