NASA’s Curiosity rover has called Mars home for years and it’s work isn’t done yet. The rover will soon start yet another investigative mission, this time climbing the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a mountain located in the Gale Crater. Ahead of starting its climb, though, Curiosity paused in the crater’s rim to snap a selfie with the mountain featured in the background.
Mount Sharp, which is also known as Aeolis Mons, is the central peak within the Gale Crater, rising nearly 3.5 miles above the ground. According to NASA, Curiosity will start climbing up the slope in “coming weeks,” having made its way to the Gale Crater where it recently snapped an impressive panorama of the region.
The Mars selfie above shows Curiosity on the Vera Rubin Ridge, NASA says, a spot it has spent several months investigating. The space agency explains that Mount Sharp’s base provides researchers with a way to access layers of the landscape that were formed over a duration of millions of years, likely in the presence of water.
Researchers are described as “eager” to get access to the data that will come from Curiosity’s climb, but until then we’re given another fun self-portrait of the vehicle. This isn’t the first time the rover has take an image of itself, and it probably won’t be the last.
These so-called “rover selfies” have proven controversial with some conspiracy theories who always pose the question, “Who took the picture?” Selfies like this aren’t proof that the Mars mission is faked, though, and NASA takes a brief moment to explain why. The selfie you see above and past ones similar to it aren’t a single snapshot, but rather a wide-angle panorama created by stitching many images together. The armature used to extend the camera is removed during this process to give it the clean look we see above.