Curiosity Sticks Her Toes in a Martian Sand Dune, Takes a Selfie

Curiosity rover 'selfie' at the Bagnold Dunes on Mars. The mosaic includes 57 images taken on Sol 1228 (January 19, 2016).  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Andrew Bodrov.

While some of us might only be dreaming of sticking our toes in the sand right about now, the Curiosity rover is actually doing so. But it’s no vacation for the rover, as she makes her way through some very unusual and striking sand dunes on Mars. The Bagnold Dune Field lies along the northwestern flank of Mt. Sharp — Curiosity’s main target for its mission — and this is the first time ever we’ve had the opportunity to do close-up studies of active sand dunes anywhere besides Earth.Thanks to Andrew Bodrov for sharing his compilation of this 57-image mosaic ‘selfie,’ and you can play around with an interactive version below to see some great views of the dunes. The images were taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 1228 (January 19, 2016).
Mars Panorama – Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 1228While the rover stopped to these images to create this 57-image mosaic ‘selfie,’ Curiosity has also been quite busy, both navigating through the dunes and stopping to do some sampling. Excitingly, the rover scooped up some of the sand and sent it to the on-board chemistry lab, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). This is only the second time the scoop has been used to deliver small portions – usually about the size of a half of a baby aspirin –to be analyzed; the rover’s drill has been used several times to get samples.Curiosity scooped its first dune sample on Jan. 14, but the rover stuck in its wheel briefly, scuffing it with a wheel. “The scuff helped give us confidence we have enough sand where we’re scooping that the path of —> Read More