The Curiosity Rover’s Ultimate Self-Portrait

The Curiosity rover self portrait. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

OK, we thought the low-resolution self-portrait from yesterday was great… but here’s the real goods: a monster, high-resolution awesome mosaic of 55 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), showing the rover at its spot in Gale Crater — called Rocknest — with the base of Gale Crater’s 5-kilometer- (3-mile-) high mountain, Aeolis Mons or Mount Sharp, rising in the background. The images were taken on Sol 84 (Oct. 31, 2012), and sent to Earth today. In the foreground, four scoop scars can be seen in the regolith in front of the rover. As we mentioned about the previous MAHLI mosaic, the arm was moved for each of the 55 images, so the arm and the camera doesn’t show up, just like any photographer behind the camera (or their arms) isn’t visible in a photograph.

You can get access to the full resolution version at this link. It’s amazing.

But that’s not all…

NASA says that self-portraits like this one document the state of the rover and allow mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheel wear. Due to its location on the end of the robotic arm, only MAHLI (among the rover’s 17 cameras) is able to image some parts of the craft, including the port-side wheels.

Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Blog talks about the projection issue, where the wheel closest to the front looks big and distorted. That’s a factor of the camera angle and Emily mentions a discussion of this is taking place by the image wizards over at Unmanned Spaceflight , if you want to see the various ways to deal with this issue.

Emily also points out how the rover photographed itself photographing itself — due to the reflective surfaces on the turret, so check out her analysis.

You can always see the raw images coming in from Curiosity at this NASA website.

But the other cool thing is that another whole set of images was taken from a slightly different angle, which means only one thing: 3-D! Here’s Stu Atkinson’s first quick attempt:

There will surely be some refinements of the 3-D version, but enjoy this one for now!

45 Replies to “The Curiosity Rover’s Ultimate Self-Portrait”

    1. You mean it’s amazing what the Americans are capable of.
      You don’t speak for me or the rest of humanity.
      To presume otherwise is just pure arrogance.

      1. So by your standards no one is allowed to say “It’s so amazing what the human race is capable of.. ”

        Can I say it?
        If I were French could I say that?
        How about if I was Thai would it be ok?

        Are you allowed to say that?
        Can any other americans say it? and if so who?
        Or is it that one particular person

      2. “Can I say it? If I were French could I say that?
        How about if I was Thai would it be ok?”

        No. They would not be that bold or presumptuous, as would most countries in the world. Look is perfectly OK to be proud and support your own country, and justifiably too, America has good reasons to do so.

        Yet to claim to do things for “humanity”, but who really give you the permission to speak for the rest of us?

        We see the moves afoot for the great commercialisation of space, private enterprises, future plans to use asteroids as space quarries, and even militarisation of space to spy on other countries or use it to fight wars. Doesn’t seem like your really doing things for humanity to me, now does it?

        Clearly these words a being used to justify the US goals and having universal permission to do whatever the hell it wants — and especially justifying the stuff-up with this Mars rover with the contamination scare — both possible biological contamination and the likely covering up of wanton littering.

        The bottom line is that there is no justification whatsoever in doing so.

        It is just propaganda to make Americans feel more superior about themselves. In my mind it is a delusion — a dangerous delusion. That is my point, negativity by others or not.

      3. Uh…yeah, just a second there, captain cynical. For the record, 11 nations contributed to the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Also, all of those who worked on it are human, so yeah, a pretty good cross section of the human race is responsible for this amazing accomplishment. Ok, now you can continue your humorless gripe-fest.

      4. It is amazing what humans are capable of. Even if it weren’t beneficial to humanity and was just an amazing feat of engineering it’s still amazing what we’re capable of.

        No one was even speaking for humanity in the original statement, they were speaking about it from an outside perspective.

        It’s amazing what killer whales are capable of. I’m clearly not speaking on their behalf.

        And if space exploration isn’t beneficial to humanity I don’t know what is. We’re sitting on a rock floating around a light bulb in a vast emptiness. Human life, even planetary life is unsustainable without space travel.

        As for wonton littering, I have no idea what you’re talking about. The risk of bacteria spread is tiny, as nearly all if not all of the bacteria has died thus far. Otherwise we only have a few things on mars. Far from litter.

        There are no delusions of grandeur here. NASA confers with space programs from around the world. This isn’t just an American effort it’s a human effort.

      5. I’ve seen this idea that we’re somehow ‘wanton littering’ the surface of Mars several times in several different places. It is beyond ludicrous.

      6. Last I heard US citizens (I assume not “Americans” or even “North Americans”) were members of the human race.

        Even if some makes it difficult to think so. Really, don’t you have any better to do than trolling serious science sites with trash talk? Let us not assassinate this site further, mister. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

    2. It definitely is amazing. I can’t wait to see what we can manage as a species in the next few decades. 🙂

      1. According to SJStar’s I.P. address, he resides Down Under in the same state as you do, but in a different town, so he’s one of your lot! 😉

      2. Not surprising. Hmmm – same state, different town. A town which must contain jerks. I’m thinking Newcastle.

        *(Maybe he’s a whinging pom!)
        🙂 Quite possibly, although it seems like all Aussies do these days is whinge as well…

        In any case, it’s good to be back on UT! I’ve been so buried in my astronomy PhD I haven’t had time to think about astronomy! I’m making it a priority now…

      3. A town which must contain jerks. I’m thinking Newcastle.

        Actually, it’s a small town: Moss Vale.

        Anyway, welcome back to UT!

  1. This is a great picture not only of the rover, but also of the martian terrain. It would be nice to make a print. Are NASA photo’s protected with copywrite protections against reproduction? Also, SJ I think Americans are a part of the human race, I learned that in algebra. We may represent the human race and not be the human race, and yes you are correct, I do not speak for you, not trying to be too arrogant.

    1. NASA photos belong to the public. They are a publicly funded agency and all of there work belongs to us. Go to and have a ball.

  2. “SJ I think Americans are a part of the human race.”

    Of course they are. The point is they don’t speak for all of humanity, and its is arrogance to the claims that they do so is what is utterly offensive. Frankly Americans simply just don’t get this, and it is this believe is why many people beyond its shores dislike Americans so much.

    George Bush was right when he described non-Americans as either “For us or against us..” What he never realised nor understood was why, in that unilateralism is the true evil being perpetrated onto everyone else living in the world today.

    America may do a lot of good things, but it is sheer arrogance to assume everyone else has to tow-the-line or hold exactly similar views. Much of the world thinks differently, but instead Americans are generally just so inflexible, any differences become a threat and needs to be suppressed. Until that sinks in to the psyche of American thought, it will continue to be permanently held against them and towards their detriment unless it changes.

    For me, comment’s like Ian McLeod, whether American (or possibly not) is the ultimate insult to my way of life and my own ability to express the open or contrary view — away . Don’t speak for me or other, please as it is blatantly offensive frankly really disgusts me.

    Underlined wanton imperialism is what makes America among the very worst countries in the world — and most of the American population are totally oblivious as to why.

    1. What the hell does this story have to do with George Bush ?
      Nowhere in this story or in anyone’s comments does his name come up until you pop it out of thin air.

      Note to Universe Today Admins – I think we have a genuine troll here. Bashing up people with completely half-baked up hallucinations of his own.
      It seems to be the result of some sort of Inferiority complex that he is afflicted with. There must be some psychological reason for why he brings up his hatred of America with every story.

      1. Again. I don’t hate America, but I do dislike some of the attitudes adopted by its citizens, and some of its jingoism.

        I also note with great amusement, the idea of ‘freedom of speech’ so much beloved by Americans doesn’t actually apply when you do disagree with them — especially if you are beyond its shores.

        My reply was clearly in response to a comment made by Tim Amato, and explains my own response to the ‘offensive’ Ian McLeod’s post. A troll initiates the controversy first up. They cannot be a troll if they respond to an open question or one that wishes mere clarification.

        George Bush was used and his words was quoted to support my argument. (Again argument is untoward when you disagree with it!)

        Also saying I have an ‘inferiority complex’ is just biassed rhetoric. In fact I believe the exact opposite. Most non-Americans are superior because they are not tied down by the plain ‘hand-on-heart’ self-delusion, flagrant jingoism, excessive flag-waving patriotism, etc.

        We, as in the example, do not openly make wild approbation or unsubstantiated claims of doing things just for humanity and expecting hubris, praise and accolades in return by everyone else on the planet!

        As I said to others before, after this post here, prefer most Americans than I prefer you.

        Thanking you for your approval.

      2. How else would Chetan talk about you, when he was talking to the Admins? BTW: freedom of speech does not mean you HAVE to say everything you want, just that you CAN. A website (and comments on articles for that) is like TV. If you don’t like what you see, you can start screaming at the screen OR visit another site (change the channel). Guess what: you can even even switch it off!

    2. Please ban SJStar. He/she/it contributes nothing to the conversation on Universe Today, and even though I’ve been reading this blog for over a year, his/her/its presence makes me seriously consider stopping coming here. I have to zone out the virulent, arrogant, self-absorbed he/she/it posts just to be able to interact on the comments section.

      1. Seconded: someone who expresses offense at Ian’s original statement and then wrestles the discussion of this wonderful picture into an argument over imperialism is clearly an unrepentant troll. This is the behavior of someone much more interested in arguing than they are in space missions / science. Please ban.

  3. This story isn’t “It’s amazing.” at all.

    Its motives are bombastic, pompous and highly self-aggrieving; likely based or made of self-serving jingoism.

  4. This might be a good time to review to commenting rules: (see here for more info: )

    Be nice – Don’t abuse other readers, the writers, or the Universe in
    general. Don’t swear, make racist or sexist comments, etc. I think you
    know when you’re being rude. Stop it.

    Be brief – Don’t write a long rambling comment that’s longer than the original article.

    Don’t advertise – Don’t use the site to promote your product,
    service, or your own website. If you’d like to promote your stuff, buy advertising.

    Don’t promote your personal, alternative physics theories – This is
    the same as advertising. You’ve got an idea and you want the world to
    know about it, then start up your own website, and blog away, but don’t
    do it here.

    And, yes, since SJStar has broken just about every one of these, he is now banned.

    1. On behalf of everyone that fails to post in response to SJStar’s comments, please let me give you a heartfelt “Thank you!” (And I admit, I should have stayed in that category instead of replying to him in other threads.)

      Keep up the good work on the articles and herding us cats. 😉

    2. A sigh of relief… then realizes that SJStar is actually a reintarnation of an earlier ‘contaminate’ who frequented this room. I don’t recall that Troll’s name (why remember a Troll?), but the lack of style and rudeness were the same…

    3. I didn’t know that it was against the rules to have your own theories on this website. I don’t have a book of theories only a few ideas every now and then. I did enjoy this interaction even if I was shot down; I did not have any ill will towards the replyer. Alas, I am not an educated scientist as are some of the commentators seem to be. I will try to be more careful. I did like it when my beginning astronomy teacher said the moon just happened to rotate keeping the same side to the earth and I said couldn’t the moon just have a heavy side. The interaction of ideas was somthing I liked about this site. Indeed, perhaps there is another site or a need for another site. Not that I’m deleting Universe Today.

    4. SJStar didn’t advertise, he didn’t promote his personal, alternative physics theories. Sure he wasn’t brief, but neither were you. In he also wasn’t ‘abusing’ other readers, writers, or the universe. He was stating an opinion to a statement he found incorrect. And then he backed himself up when people attacked him for stating his mind.

      It may be a good time for you to review the commenting rules.

  5. This image gives me a vicarious sense of actually ‘being there’! I like! THAT is just too cool! Thanks you guys! GO Curiosity!

    P.S. The trenches made by the rover’s scoop look almost like alien footprints? And in fact, they kind of ARE!

  6. Personally I’m still stuck in the phase of amazement that it actually landed safely. Everything else is just icing.

    1. I must agree with you. This landing was so complex, I cannot believe landed successfully. Fantastic mission. JPL is an incredible outfit.

      1. I, too, thought the rube goldberg landing scheme was likely to fail. The engineers kept saying: trust us; we know what we’re doing. They were right.

  7. “The instrument is mounted on the rover’s robotic arm.” Wikipedia. Will someone please point out the “arm” holding the camera? I see no connection between it and the rover.

    1. The arm can’t be seen in the image because it is “holding” the camera, and the arm was moved for each of the 55 images in this mosaic. Its kind of like if you took a 360 panorama by moving in a circle and taking pictures at each turn and then put all the pictures together in a mosaic, you wouldn’t be in the picture.

  8. Stunning. But one thing I don’t get – isn’t that the robotic arm in the picture, which is the thing that has MAHLI on it? How can it possibly get any shots of itself with the arm in this position?

Comments are closed.