In a test of the powerful camera mounted at the end of its robotic arm, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover snapped some photos of its own wheels and underbelly.
The stunning new Mars photos by Curiosity show detailed views of its wheels and underbelly, a self-portrait of the robot's head-like camera mast and even a snapshot of an odd bit of Americana — a 1909 Lincoln penny used for calibration — that hitched a ride to the Red Planet with the rover.
The Curiosity rover took the photos over the weekend using its Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, which is a focusable color camera attached to an instrument turret at the end of Curiosity's 7-foot (2.1–meter) robotic arm. MAHLI snapped its first photo of the Martian surface without a protective dust cover on Saturday (Sept. 8), and then began taking clear pictures of Curiosity itself a day later.
In one photo, the camera takes a clear look at Curiosity's three left wheels in a view that is framed by the rover's belly above. Curiosity's ultimate destination, the 3-mile-high (5-kilometer) Mount Sharp that rises from the center of the rover's Gale Crater landing site, can be seen in the distance. [11 Amazing Things Curiosity Can Do]
Another snapshot, taken on Friday (Sept. 7), captures a dusty view of Curiosity's camera mast. The photo appears hazy not because of a dust storm, but because the dust cover on MAHLI was closed at the time.