A Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator means NASA’s Curiosity rover always stays busy, dust or shine. Not even an intense dust storm can keep the rover down. While the Opportunity rover had to shut down, the folks responsible for Curiosity are still doing science.
Curiosity even had time to capture a selfie.
The composite image put together by Seán Doran shows what Curiosity and its dusty surroundings looked like on Sol 2082 (the date on Mars since Curiosity landed). Today is Sol 2086.
Despite looking like a single frame, the image is stitched together from many images captured by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, mounted on the rover’s robotic arm. Each time a picture is captured, the robotic arm is behind the camera’s view. Here’s a short clip from NASA’s JPL showing how it works.
But Curiosity isn’t just taking pictures of itself. The rover’s drill and analysis instruments (specifically, the CheMin X-Ray Diffractometer and the SAM mass spectrometer/gas chromatograph/tunable laser spectrometer suite) are finally back in action after spending months on the sidelines.
Problems with Curiosity’s drill kept the rover from performing some of the science it was designed to do. But the drill is back in action, and the rover is ready to make one last trek through Vera Rubin Ridge before it moves higher up Mount Sharp.
Here’s a new hole Curiosity drilled back in May.
And another view of it.
Next up for Curiosity is a cruise of about 13 meters to a target in Vera Rubin Ridge. Here, the rover will study the site as it preps its drill.