NASA Rover shares incredible 360 degree ‘selfie’ from the surface of Mars

Olive Hawkins
September 9, 2018

In the continuing battle for the most impressive selfie, the Curiosity rover has left your tropical beach photos in its dust.

Curiosity rover is now located at Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge, where a number of images were taken and later stitched together into a panorama. In the foreground is the rover's most recent drill target, named "Stoer" after a town in Scotland near where important discoveries about early life on Earth were made in lakebed sediments.

The image shows umber skies, darkened by a fading global dust storm.

NASA operatives put Opportunity into hibernation mode to conserve energy, since the dusty skies prevented its solar panels from being able to charge.

The same storm seen in Curiosity's selfie blocked sunlight from the solar-powered Opportunity, silencing it on 10 June.

Curiosity is nuclear-powered, so the dust storm hasn't affected its activities too much.

Vera Rubin Ridge sits on the flanks of Mount Sharp, the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) mountain that rises from the center of the 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater.

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But it is grappling with other problems.

While there's no way of knowing which rocks are harder and therefore more difficult to drill into, the Curiosity team has learned that Vera Rubin Ridge has a complex structure. Its role is to investigate the planets' climate and geology - and in particular, find out if the Gale Crater ever had the right conditions to sustain life.

While the latest drill sample hasn't solved the mystery of Vera Rubin Ridge, scientists were simply relieved to collect and analyze some powdered rock.

"The ridge isn't this monolithic thing-it has two distinct sections, each of which has a variety of colors", Vasavada said in a NASA blog post. "Some [colors] are visible to the eye and even more show up when we look in near-infrared", Vasavada explained, "just beyond what our eyes can see".

Nasa said: "The new drill sample delighted Curiosity's science team, because the rover's last two drill attempts were thwarted by unexpectedly hard rocks". Is there something special in the ridge's red rocks that makes them so unyielding?

But Curiosity, which is about as tall as a basketball player, will attempt two more drills this month before moving to another site in October.

For now, Vera Rubin Ridge is keeping that secret.

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