On Feb. 26, 2020 Curiosity rover took a selfie on Mars that has now gone viral. Using the black-and-white Navigation Cameras and its incorporated rotating selfie stick, Curiosity made 86 pictures.
Ordered frame by frame, they make a 360 degrees picture or a short movie. 350 degrees, to be more precise, as this is the limit of the robotic arm’s turning range.
“We get asked so often how Curiosity takes a selfie. We thought the best way to explain it would be to let the rover show everyone from its own point of view just how it’s done,” said Doug Ellison, a Curiosity camera operator at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
A part of its mission is to gather data about Mars’ climate and geology, determining the role of water, and also the possibility of alien life on the Red Planet — At least microbial life.
Curiosity’s selfie on Mars gone viral
Curiosity has been spending its last six years on Mountain Sharp. Mountain Sharp, or Aeolis Mons, is the central peak of Mars’ Gale crater. Curiosity had some adventurous times there, Mountain Sharp’s slope requiring it to tilt as to 31 degrees.
Rover’s tilt limit is 45 degrees, so there was no real threat to its integrity in doing it, but it still gave the astronomers the chills when the slope made Curiosity’s wheels spin in place.
Although awarded in 2012 with the Robert J. Collier Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association, the rover of $2.5 billion has recently been put on the austerity list of NASA’s 2021 budget. It is no longer a priority for NASA, which is currently concentrating its funding on Perseverance rover, which will be launched to Mars in July 2020.
A curious thing about Curiosity is how it got its name. NASA put up a naming contest and 9,000 proposals arrived. Twelve-year-old Clara Ma, a sixth-grade student from Kansas’s Sunflower Elementary School came with the name and won.