A new NASA photo shows a small blue dot in the middle of a bumpy, rocky brown landscape. That landscape, the space agency says, is Mars, and the small blue dot? That’s the Mars Curiosity rover as seen by NASA’s own Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The photo was taken last month by the space agency’s super powerful Mars telescope, which only takes photos a handful of times a year. The capturing of Curiosity, it seems, was a happy coincidence.
According to NASA, its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the photo you see above last month; it features exaggerated colors designed to enhanced the landscape’s features, hence the reason Curiosity rover shows up as blue though it is not that color in real life. The photo was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, more commonly referred to as HiRISE.
The Curiosity rover was making its way to the Vera Rubin Ridge, traveling there from the sand dunes located on the lower portion of what scientists call Mount Sharp. The rover was at the mid-point between these two destinations, heading from one to the other to investigate a region where hematite was spotted during a Mars orbit.
The landscape in that region is composed of dark sand scattered around lighter-colored rocks. Curiosity has been rolling through the Mars landscape for many years in search of areas of interest, providing researchers back on Earth with important information that will help humanity understand the Red Planet both in its present form and how it existed thousands and millions of years ago. Mars is one of the next hot destinations to which humans want to travel, though actual deep space missions are still far off.