Mars Curiosity recently released a series of self portraits that could rival most Myspace profile pictures.
Conspiracy theorists went ran amok when the photos came out, since they seemed to be taken from “too far away” to have been a self portrait. The Curiosity Team came forward to explain how the rover was able to take such wide snapshots of itself.
The rover uses a camera called Mars Hand Lens Imager or MAHLI to take several high resolution photos of itself, which are stitched together to create the images that were released. For example, in the photo below a total of 55 high res photos were taken to create it:
The camera also sits on a seven foot long robotic arm that extends away from the rover body. The MAHLI camera was placed on the rover to take microscopic quality photos of Martian details, like the shape of the grains of sand sitting on the surface of the planet. While the news might sadden the conspiratorial community, have hope!
The Curiosity mission might be slated to only run for two Earth years, but NASA scientists say it could easily run for two decades. Feasibly this could mean that the Mars Rover could even catch a ride back home with the first manned mission to Mars which scientists say is just 15 years away.
NASA’s Doug McCuistion says it is his personal hope, if not that of the entire Mars team NASA, that humans will touch down on the Red Planet in the 2030s or 2040s.
The only thing that might stop the rover from coming home would obviously be weight as the rover rolls in at just over two tons, and those Myspace angles aren’t enough to fool NASA into picking it up without checking first.
What do you think Nation?
Should the rover get a chance to come home with the first manned crew, or should he stay out there investigating the great unknown? Let us know in the comments below!