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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

High-Res Curiosity Rover Self-Portrait Is Mind-Blowing

• http://www.wired.com, By Adam Mann
 Two days ago, we showed one of the best rover selfies ever, which came from amateur astronomer Stuart Atkinson, who stitched together raw images beamed back from Curiosity. But the pictures used there were only thumbnail versions of the high-res pics. The above image represents the full-sized 5,400-pixel-wide version generated from the complete set of photographs. The detail is so stunning you can zoom in on Curiosity’s “eye” at the top and see a reflection of Mars and the rover’s arm.

The image was taken by Curiosity’s MAHLI hand-held camera, which sits on the end of the rover’s extendable arm. MAHLI snapped 55 pictures from different locations. The different positions overlapped just enough so that the arm couldn’t be seen in the final result.

What can be seen are tire tracks, scoops in the Martian dust that Curiosity made, and the foothills of the 3-mile-high Mount Sharp in the background, which Curiosity will be driving up in the coming years. The rover will be investigating this area for signs of habitability in the Martian past or present. NASA will present new results about the Martian atmosphere at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, which may include analysis of methane on Mars, a possible indicator of geologic or biological activity.

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