Curiosity rover was here

Almost as if to say, “Seeeee? I really AM on Mars,” the Curiosity rover sent home a portrait of itself sitting pretty in the sand.

The rover used its MAHLI camera to take 55 different photos of itself. NASA scientists then re-assembled those photos into the full composite portrait. The rover moved it’s arm holding the camera to a different position for each snap, so that’s why it doesn’t appear in this photo.

But the rover is doing more than taking puzzle-piece glamour shots. Earlier this week CheMin, a device inside the rover, analyzed the soil scooped up by Curiosity by blasting it with X-rays.  It discovered crystalline feldspar, pyroxenes, and olivine, which are often found here following volcanic eruptions and then some erosion by rain and running water. This scoop was quite similar to soil near the Mauna Kea shield volcano in Hawaii.

This wasn’t terribly shocking to scientists, who had some evidence that this kind of activity had gone on on Mars, but it is the first concrete data of what makes up the Martian soil.

Photo: NASA

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