NASA has several space vehicles and spacecraft on and around Mars, looking for signs of past life, water and carrying out various scientific experiments. One of the rovers is the NASA Curiosity Mars rover, which recently approached a rock formation that scientists call “Mont Mercou”. This nickname was taken from a mountain in France. Martian Mont Mercou is a rocky outcrop about 6 meters high. Curiosity imagined the outcrop of rock in a new selfie and took a pair of panoramas offering a 3D view.
The selfie was taken by Curiosity near a new hole in a nearby rock sample called “Nontron”. This drilling sample represents the 30th sample obtained by the mission so far. The drill on board the Curiosity sprayed the sample before feeding it the instruments inside the rover to allow the science team to gain a better understanding of the rock’s composition and any clues it might offer about the distant Martian past.
The area in which Curiosity is now operating is a transition between the “clay carrier” that the rover is leaving and the “sulfate carrier” that is in front of him on Mount Sharp. Mount Sharp is a five-kilometer-high mountain that the rover has been climbing since 2014. Scientists are hopeful that the transition area can reveal what happened to Mars when it became the known desert planet today.
The Curiosity selfie consists of 60 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager attached to the robotic arm of the rover. The photo collection was taken on March 26, 2021, the mission’s 3070th Martian sun. The images were combined with 11 others taken by Mastcam on March 16, 2021, 10 days before the first set of photos was taken.
The panoramas were taken using Mastcam on March 4, 2021. One panorama was shot at a distance of about 130 feet from the outcrop before Curiosity rolled over and shot another at the same distance. The goal was to create a stereoscopic effect similar to 3D displays.