Mars Curiosity Rover sends Selfie to NASA

Mars Curiosity Rover sends Selfie to NASA

While on the latest phase of its exploration mission on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover sent a selfie to the US Space Agency. The panoramic selfie of the car-size mobile laboratory has been created by combining 57 different pictures sent by the vehicle while climbing a hill. The pictures were taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera that is fitted at the end of the Curiosity's arm. The selfie depicts the vehicle on the side of a dark dune where Curiosity has been carrying out digging and filtering of the sand samples.

NASA has been using the Curiosity rover since the past two months to examine a cluster of active sand dunes. The assessment is aimed at understanding the movement of the winds and sorting of the sand particles on Mars. The location, at which the assessment is being carried out, falls under the Bagnold Dune Field that forms the outline of the northwestern side of Mount Sharp on Mars.

At the time of the 57 pictures being taken by the MAHLI camera, the edge of the Namib Dune had been scraped by the vehicle, which had gathered the first three scoops of sand from the dune. Meanwhile, when the processing was being undertaken, a sample-processing device’s actuator failed to operate in the desired manner.

The Curiosity team is trying to discover the explanation behind the undesired performance of the actuator. "The rover responded properly to this unexpected event. It stopped moving the actuator and halted further use of the arm and sampling system", said Steve Lee, who is the Curiosity’s Deputy Project Manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

In the case of any occurrence of the movement, it will be possible for the team to estimate the strength and direction of the winds. Currently, the researchers are trying to figure out the next drilling location of the rover to gather rock-powder samples from the bedrock.