The Curiosity Rover, currently on Mars, took another selfie in the “Mojave” area, where it is preparing to have a second taste of Mount Sharp, the central peak within Gale crater. The selfie scene is assembled from dozens of images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover’s robotic arm.
What we’re seeing here is an outcrop of the bedrock that forms the basal layer of Mount Sharp, at the center of Mars’ Gale Crater; the rover took the pictures while looking for the ideal place to drill its samples. What makes this selfie special is that we get to see more context about the environment in which the rover is working.
“Compared with the earlier Curiosity selfies, we added extra frames for this one so we could see the rover in the context of the full Pahrump Hills campaign,” said rover team member Kathryn Stack at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “From the Mojave site, we could include every stop we’ve made during the campaign.”
Curiosity will also start drilling more softly, thanks to a newly installed software. Between its softest and strongest drill setting, there is an almost 20-fold increase in energy. Now, all the drillings will start out slowly and increase in strength only when it’s necessary.
“Curiosity’s drill is essentially a hammer and chisel, and this gives us a way not to hammer as hard,” John Michael Morookian, who works on the Curiosity sampling team, explained.