Loitering and Reconnoitering: Curiosity Images Itself in Gale Crater Mosaic

Enlarge Image credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech/Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo MORE IMAGES

Shortly after NASA's Curiosity rover touched down on Mars, the robot poked its head up and started taking a look around.

The rover snapped the pictures in the above mosaic on August 8, just days after Curiosity arrived on the Red Planet, using its stereo navigation cameras (Navcam) atop the rover's necklike mast. Photographer, writer and chemist Ken Kremer and photographer and educator Marco Di Lorenzo stitched the photographs together into a composite. The central gap in the mosaic arises from the use of left- and right-eye Navcam images. Kremer and Di Lorenzo also colorized the mosaic—Navcam photos are monochrome—to try to match the look of the terrain as captured by Curiosity's color Mast Camera (Mastcam).

The rover's tilted, finned power plant—a plutonium-fuel source that generates electricity through the heat of radioactive decay—is visible to the right. The vertical cylinder above houses the rover's UHF antenna. In the background is the rising rim of Gale Crater, the 150-kilometer-wide basin that Curiosity will explore during its roughly two-year mission.

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