NASA Curiosity rover snaps glorious Mars selfie at scenic ‘Mont Mercou’ – CNET

A new Curiosity rover selfie from March 2021 shows the machine posing with a rock outcrop named “Mont Mercou.”

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s recently landed Perseverance rover may be stealing the Mars-related headlines, but the long-lived Curiosity rover is here to remind us of the good work it’s doing on the red planet. On Tuesday, NASA delivered a fresh Curiosity selfie that’s one for the ages.

Some rover selfies have been focused on the machine itself, but this one is all about celebrating the Martian landscape, and particularly a scenic rock outcrop nicknamed “Mont Mercou” after a mountain in France.

The rock formation stands 20 feet (6 meters) tall and draws the eye. If you look closely to the left of the rover, you’ll also spot a dainty hole representing Curiosity’s 30th drill sample on Mars. 

The rover is positioned in a transitional zone between the “clay-bearing unit,” an area with an intriguing history of water, and the “sulfate-bearing unit,” a spot where researchers expect to find sulfates like gypsum and Epsom salts that can form as water evaporates.

“Scientists have long thought this transition might reveal what happened to Mars as it became the desert planet we see today,” said NASA in a statement on Tuesday.

The selfie at this lovely site is a composite of 60 images taken by a camera on the rover’s arm on March 26, combined with 11 more images taken earlier in the month by the rover’s mast-mounted camera. The overall effect is an epic view of the Gale Crater, the outcrop and the rover’s little piece of paradise on Mars.

The Perseverance rover — which is in the process of deploying the Ingenuity helicopter — arrived on Mars in February 2021. Curiosity has been in residence on the red planet since 2012. 

The Mont Mercou selfie is the latest in a long line of glorious Mars views as the veteran rover continues its mission of exploration.

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