SCIENCE

Mars Rover Curiosity Update: Self Portrait & New Images Released, First Destination Announced (PHOTOS)

08/18/2012 07:22 pm 19:22:28

NASA on Friday released the latest images to be sent back by the Mars Rover Curiosity, including a high-resolution self-portrait taken by the rover's Navigation camera.

According to NASA, the portrait, available below, is composed of a mosaic of 20 images taken on Aug. 8, just several days after the rover landed on Mars.

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Curiosity's deck, some of the science lab's instruments and two of the rover's six wheels are visible in the 120-degree image. The rim of Gale Crater, in which the rover landed in the early morning of Aug. 6, can be seen in the background of the picture.

"What's really exciting about this is that we see the rover — a self-portrait, with the rim of Gale Crater in the background," John Grotzinger, the Curiosity chief scientist, said, according to Space.com.

Space.com also reports that the specs on the deck of the rover are small bits of gravel "kicked up" by the rocket-powered sky-crane that lowered Curiosity to the Marian surface.

In a news conference on Friday, NASA scientists also said that they had decided that the rover's first destination will be a site they've named Glenelg, which is about 1,300 feet from where the rover landed. Scientists chose the site because it "is a natural intersection of three kinds of terrain," according to NASA.

Before Curiosity begins its journey to Glenelg, it will "exercise" its wheels and go on several short test drives. NASA scientists expect these tests to occur in the next few days.

The Rover is also expected to use its Chemistry and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, for the first time on the evening of August 18.

The ChemCam uses a laser to analyze the composition of rocks and can assist scientists in determining if liquid water was once present in a certain area.

LOOK: Curiosity Self-Portrait curiosity self portrait

New Images From Mars Rover
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