“Wish you were here! This selfie was taken in front of ‘Mont Mercou,’ a rock formation that’s 20ft (6m) tall,” JPL posted, “It’s made up of 60 images from my MAHLI camera and 11 images from my Mastcam. Look close enough to spot a new drill hole – my 30th sample to date.”
The selfie, taken earlier in the month, was posted alongside an additional pair of three-dimensional and panoramic shots of the Martian landscape.
In a caption accompanying the image, JPL explained that Curiosity had stitched together different images to create the selfie in front of the 20-foot-tall rock outcrop.
“The panorama is made up of 60 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm on March 26, 2021, the 3070th Martian day, or sol, of the mission,” they wrote. “These were combined with 11 images taken by the Mastcam on the mast, or ‘head,’ of the rover on March 16, 2021, the 3,060th Martian day of the mission.”
Curiosity landed on Mars’ surface on Aug. 6, 2012, at 1:32 a.m. ET.
Visible to the left of the rover is a hole where its robotic drill sampled a rock named by the scientists as “Nontron” — a village in southeastern France.
Nontron-related nicknames were chosen because Mars orbiters detected nontronite, a type of clay mineral, in the region.
In a Tuesday news release from JPL, researchers explained that Curiosity’s drill had “powderized” the Nontron sample before “trickling it into instruments inside the rover.”
The process was necessary in order for their science team to better understand the rock’s composition and history.
“This area is at the transition between the ‘clay-bearing unit’ Curiosity is departing and the ‘sulfate-bearing unit’ that’s ahead on Mount Sharp, the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain that the rover has been rolling up since 2014,” they wrote.
“Scientists have long thought this transition might reveal what happened to Mars as it became the desert planet we see today,” added JPL.