NASA has shared an incredible new Curiosity rover selfie that marks its latest record-breaking activity on Mars. According to the space agency, Curiosity recently — and quite successfully — trekked up an incredibly steep part of the Martian landscape called the Greenheugh Pediment. The rover paused only to capture a selfie to commemorate the moment, one that features the entire rover and quite a bit of red landscape.
The image was captured on February 26 on the 2,678th Martian day of the Curiosity mission, according to NASA. Visible in the image is a layer of rock that is perched on top of a steep hill. The Hutton drill hole NASA highlighted in the image shows a recent effort by the rover to reach bedrock on Mars for a small sample of the material.
The space agency explains that Curiosity captured the scene before starting its trek up the slope — it also took time to capture a black-and-white video that shows how it uses its robotic arm to capture selfies. As you may expect from the final image, NASA had to stitch many images together to form the 360-degree final image — in this case, it took 86 snapshots, but some panoramas have required hundreds.
Overall, viewers see Curiosity positioned around 11ft below the area where it would make its climb — a trek that was successfully completed on March 6. The rover was tilted 31-degrees, which is the most it has ever been tilted on the Martian surface. Only the defunct Opportunity rover beat that record with a tilt of 32-degrees.
NASA reassures the public that Curiosity is never put in a position where it may tip over; in fact, it can handle up to 45-degree angles without risk. This is the latest move in Curiosity’s slow multi-year journey up Mars’ Mount Sharp, a mountain that is three miles tall.