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Did NASA Use Instagram For Curiosity Mars Rover's First Color Photo? (No, But It Looks Like It)

08/07/2012 01:55 pm ET

Probably much to NASA's delight, the Mars rover Curiosity got the nation's attention this week. Yes, we're rapt in awe over the triumph of human innovation and discovery. But we're into it for the memes.

The latest joke plays off of the first color photo of the Martian surface sent back by Curiosity. Does it remind you of anything? If you're like us and the rest of Twitter making quips, it look a lot like NASA's discovered Instagram on Mars.

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NASA explains the low-definition blur you might not expect from a $2.5 billion mission. "The image is murky because the MAHLI's [Mars Hand Lens Imager] removable dust cover is apparently coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover's terminal descent," the space agency said on its website. "This image was acquired with the dust cover closed. The cover will not be opened until more than a week after the landing."

So what Instagram filter looks most like Mars dust? Well after looking through the photo-sharing service's 18 digital filters, we concluded that "Toaster" creates the best out-of-this-world experience.

Check it out. We look this image from Flickr user hobgadlng of Namibia's Namib Desert...

nasa instagram curiosity

...and applied Toaster.

nasa instagram curiosity

The effect is closest to the haze on the Red Planet. In April, The Atlantic's Megan Garber describes Toaster as "[h]igh exposure, with corner vignetting," in case you're wondering. Also, apparently it's named after Digg found Kevin Rose's dog!

On Monday, the Internet collectively gawked over the mohawk of Curiosity flight director Bobak Ferdowsi. The NASA employee's appropriately star-lined hairdo inspired meme after meme throughout the day. We imagine the U.S. space agency is enjoying the attention after its recently shuttered manned shuttle program was relatively ignored over the years by a disinterested public.

But soon NASA hopes to grab our attention again with more photos from the Martian surface -- but next time, they probably won't look like they've been 'grammed.

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