While we're stuck down here on earth, NASA's Curiosity rover is currently trundling around on the surface of Mars, mapping the terrain and analyzing rocks. This week, Curiosity took time out from its busy schedule to snap an arms-length self-portrait, showing the rover in situ, in Gale Crater - 140 million miles from home. The composite image is made up of 55 high-resolution images, taken using its MAHLI camera, which is mounted on the end of a robotic arm.

This 'self portrait' was assembled from 55 images and will be analysed by NASA to make sure that the Curiosity rover hasn't sustained any damage while traversing the surface of Mars. 

MAHLI stands for Mars Hand Lens Imager and is one of three main cameras on-board Curiosity, all of which are built around Kodak KAI-2020CM sensors - 2MP CCD chips very similar in size to the 1" type sensors used in Nikon's 1 System and Sony's DSC-RX100. These 11.8 x 8.9mm sensors are now made by Truesense Imaging - the company spun-out of Kodak in 2011. The All three are equipped with standard Bayer filters, allowing them to capture color images in a single shot. Back in August, we interviewed Mike Ravine of Malin Space Science Systems, who developed the cameras and you can read that article here.

The 34mm (115mm equiv.) Mastcam from the Curiosity rover - developed by Mike Ravine and his team at Malin Space Science Systems.

According to NASA, 'Self-portraits like this one document the state of the rover and allow mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheel wear. Due to its location on the end of the robotic arm, only MAHLI (among the rover's 17 cameras) is able to image some parts of the craft, including the port-side wheels'.