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Monday, September 10, 2012

Self-Portraits on Mars

Curiosity has been busy taking self-portraits. The MAHLI took a self-shot of the Remote Sensing Mast, which shoes the Mastcam and Chemcam on Sol 32 (Sept. 7, 2012). The clear dust-cover was shut when this image was taken. Just today NASA released a photograph made by stitching together many MAHLI images of the underside of the rover. The dust cover was opened for the first time when taking these images, showing that the camera's ability to take sharp images remains intact. "Wow, seeing these images after all the tremendous hard work that has gone into making them possible is a profoundly emotional moment," said MAHLI Principal Investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. "It is so exciting to see the camera returning beautiful, sharp images from Mars."

The camera's calibration target includes a 1909 Lincoln penny that Edgett purchased for this purpose. "We're seeing the penny in the foreground and, looking past it, a setting I'm sure the people who minted these coins never imagined," Edgett said. Coins have long been used by geologists to show the relative size of an object in a photograph.

"The folks who drive the rover's arm and turret have taken a 220-pound arm through some very complex tai chi, to center a penny in an image that's only a few centimeters across," said MAHLI Deputy Principal Investigator Aileen Yingst of the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute. "They make the impossible look easy."

The weather at Gale Crater last Saturday had a high of -2C/28F and low of -73C/-99F. The pressure is 7.38mili-atm and winds from the E at 7.2kmh/4.5mph.

- posted by Jim @ 20:12 EST