NASA Rover Sends First Selfie Postcard from Mars

Following in the footsteps of its sibling Curiosity, NASA’s Opportunity Rover caught the selfie bug as well and, on a very special day for its Mars mission, made a self-portrait and sent it back to Earth.
Opportunity Rover selfie, February 2018 1 photo
On Monday, NASA released the photo it has received from Opportunity, naming it the rover’s first selfie. It was taken on the slopes of the Endeavour Crater, on the day the Earth-made machine celebrated its 5,000th sunrise on the Red Planet.

As you might image, the selfie sent back this week is a bit more complicated to shoot than the ones taken with the phone’s camera. The image you see here is in fact comprised of multiple images, stitched together by NASA engineers.

Those image fragments were captured with the Microscopic Imager, a fixed-focus camera mounted at the end of the rover's robotic arm. The Imager is usually used to perform a close inspection of rocks at a distance of around 2.7 inches (7 cm). Nearly impossible to take a decent selfie at that distance.

According to NASA, making the image work was possible thanks to “wrist motions and turret rotations on the arm (that) allowed the Microscopic Imager to acquire the mosaic's component images.”

Currently, there are three NASA rovers on Mars: Opportunity, its peer Spirit (the two are part of the same mission, launched in 2003), and Curiosity (launched in 2011).

Of them, Opportunity and Curiosity are still active, as contact with the Spirit was lost in 2010. Curiosity was the first man-made object to send back a selfie of itself in August 2015, on its 1,065th day on Mars' surface.

Opportunity is a six-wheeler vehicle that weighs 180 kg and stands at 1.5 m high, 2.3 m wide and 1.6 m long. It uses a rocker-bogie suspension system that allows each of the rover's wheels to remain attached to the ground, regardless of the type of terrain.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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