Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Self-Portrait On Red Planet (PHOTOS)

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The Mars rover is on a two-year mission to search for life
The Mars rover is on a two-year mission to search for life

The Mars rover has taken a new picture of an extraordinary object on the surface of the Red Planet: itself.

Curiosity took the amazing photo of its own cameras in the arid, orange landscape over the weekend.

The $2bn, car-sized Mars rover is on a two-year mission to search for signs of life on the planet.

Specifically, the image of the top of Curiosity's Remote Sensing Mast was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, while the dust cover was closed.

The rover also took calibration photographs to test its cameras - including one of a penny which travelled all the way to Mars embedded in the rover.

The photo of the penny was taken from five centimetres away, to test the robot arm and the camera systems.

Nasa said the penny was a "nod to geologists' tradition of placing a coin or other object of known scale as a size reference in close-up photographs of rocks".

The coin sent to Mars was a 1909 penny - one of the first to feature Abraham Lincoln's portrait.

Nasa said:

The calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument also includes a "Joe the Martian" character, color references, a metric bar graphic, and a stair-step pattern for depth calibration. The MAHLI adjustable-focus, color camera at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm can be used for taking extreme close-ups of rocks and soil on Mars, as well as images from greater distances. The Joe the Martian character appeared regularly in a children's science periodical, "Red Planet Connection.".

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