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Curiosity rover takes high-resolution self-portrait on Mars

By dpreview staff on Nov 2, 2012 at 18:43 GMT

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'.

Comments

Total comments: 161
12
calvinboy24
By calvinboy24 (Nov 7, 2012)

I swear I can see the rover holding up the iPhone up giving the "V" sign and giving a dorky smile like so many teens these days... dang curious kids <shakes head>

0 upvotes
Craig Power
By Craig Power (Nov 7, 2012)

Sorry Gang,

Not buying it, where are the low rez shots then of the arm that were then wiped out during the stitching process. http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/Apollo1.html

2 upvotes
AV Janus
By AV Janus (Nov 6, 2012)

Wheel wear? Seriously?
It must be putting some serious miles to show any wheel wear. hahaha!

0 upvotes
Claudio NC
By Claudio NC (Nov 6, 2012)

The ZERO stitching ERROR composition, full resolution and optimized version is ready, I have just posted it here, in 2 versions, one wider and one cropped:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpi-costerni/8161111001/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpi-costerni/8160107814/in/photostream/

2 upvotes
Victor Engel
By Victor Engel (Nov 6, 2012)

I still think the best pictures from Mars were the stereo pictures taken in the 70s. I used to check out the Mars book with included stereo viewer regularly from the local library. With the leaps and bounds of technology development since the 70s, what we're getting back should be better than what we're getting. Just my opinion.

0 upvotes
stereopanDOTcom
By stereopanDOTcom (Nov 5, 2012)

You can check this Mars Rover self portrait image out in a high-resolution zoomable format here http://www.3d-360.com/117921flat

3 upvotes
D-Man67
By D-Man67 (Nov 5, 2012)

And also the individual shots here.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=85&camera=MAHLI

1 upvote
Henrikw
By Henrikw (Nov 5, 2012)

The link doesn't work

0 upvotes
WellyNZ
By WellyNZ (Nov 5, 2012)

This still blows me away. This is the surface of another planet we're looking at. I don't think I'll take that idea for granted.

1 upvote
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Nov 5, 2012)

I see tentacle.

0 upvotes
Slanicka Tomas
By Slanicka Tomas (Nov 5, 2012)

On the left side there are six shoeprints. Maybe Martians have tentacles and maybe they have foots. ;)

2 upvotes
jgilber0
By jgilber0 (Nov 10, 2012)

:) I saw those too!!

0 upvotes
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (Nov 5, 2012)

I'm reminded every day by this rover just how fortunate we are to live on a planet like Earth. Blue skies and oceans, green landscapes, and every hue, saturation, and luminosity available to us from nature. Imagine if we lived on Mars and we put on probe on Earth. Every cell of my being would have an endless yearning to be at such a beautiful world one day, even if it was just for a second. But we are already here. Wow, what a incredible gift!

9 upvotes
magneto shot
By magneto shot (Nov 5, 2012)

u can thank God for that

2 upvotes
NDT0001
By NDT0001 (Nov 5, 2012)

I totally agree with you, and that is why i cant understand why humans insist on polluting and destroying the earth.

2 upvotes
NDT0001
By NDT0001 (Nov 5, 2012)

It is also quite poignant and telling that the VERY FIRST THING that we humans did when we arrived on mars was pollute the planet by dropping a piece of plastic on the surface which had detached off the Curiosity robot. (The 'shiny object' which the cameras spotted) God save us.

0 upvotes
WellyNZ
By WellyNZ (Nov 5, 2012)

You're hilarious, magneto shot. You're no longer in the dark ages, you realise?

2 upvotes
NDT0001
By NDT0001 (Nov 5, 2012)

Wow WellyNZ, lets start mocking peoples religious beliefs, that always ends well.

5 upvotes
Goodmeme
By Goodmeme (Nov 5, 2012)

this is a photography forum and website. While I agree that humans find the earth pleasing to look at sometimes - especially shades of blue and green indicating fertile land - shall we try to leave religion out of it please. You think one thing, you 'know' you're right, thank cognitive dissonance for that. But saying it here is essentially spam.

0 upvotes
Victor Engel
By Victor Engel (Nov 6, 2012)

Earth is more beautiful to you precisely because that's where you grew up. Your very essence has been calibrated over the eons to take maximum advantage of what is available. If you had the same background but on a Martian setting, you'd be able to see things on Mars we don't, and Earth would look bland by comparison.

0 upvotes
mgblack74
By mgblack74 (Nov 5, 2012)

This just in: Ryan Brenizer on Mars!

0 upvotes
Cani
By Cani (Nov 4, 2012)

I am surprised : no whining about the absence of bokeh?

Joke aside, what's in front and on the left of the rover? Meteorites?

0 upvotes
intruder61
By intruder61 (Nov 4, 2012)

lol.....next planet.

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Nov 4, 2012)

Higher res: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16239

0 upvotes
UponQuai
By UponQuai (Nov 4, 2012)

And the camera is that big ?

1 upvote
lightandday
By lightandday (Nov 4, 2012)

Sorry Kodak - we let you down !

1 upvote
offshore13
By offshore13 (Nov 4, 2012)

was this a self portrait or is there someone or some marsian taking the picture? I'm just curious where the camera connection is

1 upvote
marsbar
By marsbar (Nov 5, 2012)

MAHLI was tha camera used to take the image:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/missions/images/MSL-payload-fi.jpg

This high res image shows stitching misalignment near that area of the rover:
http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA16239.jpg

no martian, just cleaver stitching to give more pleasant looking image.

0 upvotes
yudhir
By yudhir (Nov 4, 2012)

I see 'Duck face'

1 upvote
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Nov 5, 2012)

I see turkey behinds.

0 upvotes
Jostian
By Jostian (Nov 4, 2012)

where's the arm holding the camera?? mmm...

3 upvotes
JOrtiz
By JOrtiz (Nov 4, 2012)

It seems that there is no wind in Mars, because as dusty as the floor looks there is no signs of dust on top of Curiosity.
. . .and still do not understand what is all that lot of money doing in Mars when the conditions, even in desertic parts of our land need to be taken care of.

0 upvotes
blohum
By blohum (Nov 5, 2012)

because as a race we need to keep moving forward... if we didn't we'd still all be sat in caves saying "I don't understand why I need one of these 'wheel' things"...

4 upvotes
Steve Ives
By Steve Ives (Nov 5, 2012)

I don't understand your issue. The money used to build Curiosity never left Earth so it's still here to be used.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
happypoppeye
By happypoppeye (Nov 4, 2012)

1) Well, seeing how Mr Rover is no way connected to the camera, this pretty much proves life on mars as there has to be someone else taking the shot.

2) Self portrait? ...Ha, very "popular page instagramee"

1 upvote
Todd Ka
By Todd Ka (Nov 4, 2012)

Amazing.

0 upvotes
rowlandw
By rowlandw (Nov 4, 2012)

So where is the DP review of this camera???

3 upvotes
cordellwillis
By cordellwillis (Nov 4, 2012)

LOL It's not a camera phone so they're not interested in reviewing it :)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 55 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
D-Man67
By D-Man67 (Nov 5, 2012)

The images were transmitted, so it would qualify.
Rover uses the "Deep Space Network" service.

They have a further reach than the AT&T international service. :-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Space_Network

1 upvote
hc44
By hc44 (Nov 4, 2012)

Yes, 'self-shots' are very popular now.

1 upvote
John Koch
By John Koch (Nov 4, 2012)

A 2MP 1" CCD sensor might be ideal for video: global shutter, no "jello," downsampling or moiré, better DR and more light capture than small 1/2.3" sensors.

Why never offered in a non Martian videocam? Too advanced for mere Earthings?

Meanwhile, scratch Mars from the list of "places to see before you die." Looks like a place to die, and a bad one at that. Earth has deadly places too, albeit ones with more oxygen, tolerable air pressure, less extreme temperatures, occasional water, prettier vistas, and more bearable round-trip travel options.

2 upvotes
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Nov 5, 2012)

>a bad one at that

Right on target. I hate space -- murdering X-radiation; matter beams ripping along at near-light speeds; boiling landscapes; sulfuric-acid atmospheres; inconceivably high pressures; dead, cratered, barren, frigid, lightless planets; life-shattering gamma-ray bursts, etc. A big fooey on that.

0 upvotes
buckshot
By buckshot (Nov 4, 2012)

awesome

0 upvotes
Stujoe
By Stujoe (Nov 3, 2012)

Looks like it was built in someones garage. If that someone had unlimited money and was a genius nerd.

0 upvotes
BobYIL
By BobYIL (Nov 3, 2012)

I wonder if it is possible to "eliminate" the robotic arm in a composite picture.. I was expecting to see a portion of the "arm" at least as an OOF subject.

2 upvotes
Sebastian Z
By Sebastian Z (Nov 3, 2012)

After so many months in space, those wheels are so clean...no dust at all, makes you wonder do they have rover washing stations on mars, or that thing just drives in somebody's living room with fake background...

2 upvotes
tbcass
By tbcass (Nov 3, 2012)

Mars is very dry. Dry soil or sand does not stick but instead falls off.

0 upvotes
TLD
By TLD (Nov 3, 2012)

I was surprised to see _any_ dust sticking to the treads because there is supposed to be no moisture.

2 upvotes
Sebastian Z
By Sebastian Z (Nov 3, 2012)

I have spent 2 weeks in Sahara desert, not a drop of moisture, I was one dirty monkey with dust all over, not a clean spot on me after just 2 days... But Mars is different I guess.;)

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Nov 3, 2012)

and I thought they were hoping to strike water up there?

0 upvotes
Claudio NC
By Claudio NC (Nov 4, 2012)

"not dust at all"?
No Sebastian Z.
There is some dust and veil of dust everywhere, and some very little stones too.
Also the MAHLI camera have already some dust on the front lens, not much, but begin to became a little disturbing.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Nov 4, 2012)

Static.

1 upvote
mrxak
By mrxak (Nov 3, 2012)

I still can't quite get over the sky crane maneuver. This robot is pretty much the coolest thing our species has ever done.

7 upvotes
Mollysnoot2
By Mollysnoot2 (Nov 3, 2012)

Agreed. I honestly didn't think it would work as there were so many things that could potentially go wrong on the descent (although I was really hoping that it would), and was keeping a close eye on the news to hear if it made it... And of course, it worked flawlessly. Outstanding engineering.

2 upvotes
Andystack
By Andystack (Nov 3, 2012)

I was checking out a full size model of Curiosity recently, what the photo does not convey how is how big this thing is.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Andystack
By Andystack (Nov 3, 2012)

NASA engineers have explained many times why they chose the equipment that's on the rover, there is even an article here on DPR with all the answers. In fact you can click on the mike ravine interview above .

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (Nov 3, 2012)

Glad that a NUCLEAR robot is not on the loose in our planet.

How do Martians feel about it ?

check this 1rst color high resolution photo to find out

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/8399142031/photos/2299302/curiosity_1rst_photo

;-)

3 upvotes
do7slash
By do7slash (Nov 3, 2012)

dpreview, the only place where the commentards complain when a nuclear robot on another planet doesn't have enough megapixels...

Grow up you idiots, you know who you are.

13 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Nov 3, 2012)

I think you willl find the comments about the 2MP/hi-res thing were simply questioning the attribution "hi-res" to 2MP. They were not complaining about any lack of megapixels.

As to "idiots" - do you include yourself, or is that only the other people?

5 upvotes
Pat Cullinan Jr
By Pat Cullinan Jr (Nov 5, 2012)

I know who I am. I'm Timmy O'Sullivan. No I'm not! Don't confuse me.

0 upvotes
Serenity Now
By Serenity Now (Nov 3, 2012)

"NASA is not that smart"

They put a vehicle on Mars you idiot.

8 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Nov 4, 2012)

It was clearly a joke, can't you understand such a simple piece of humour ? Oh, my ! In that case, I suggest you to stop right now judging (and insulting) everything beyond your understanding.

2 upvotes
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (Nov 3, 2012)

Why stitching 55 images of 2MP while they can make out of only 4 images using D800.

NASA is not that smart.

2 upvotes
BasicImage
By BasicImage (Nov 3, 2012)

There was an article before the launch of the rover discussing about why they chose to use such ja low res camera (by earthly standards).

Without reading it, my humble guess is that sending 55 2mpix files back to Earth might be a bit less frustrating than sending 4 30+ mpix files. I would guess they didn't make a download manager for the rover to support resuming downloads if the connection happened to break.

I might be totally wrong, just guessing.

Nevertheless, framing, capturing and stitching those 55 files together to create such a flawless image is simply an astonishing achievement especially when the camera is on another planet.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
mgrum
By mgrum (Nov 3, 2012)

Firstly the hardware for the rover was chosen back in 2005, when there were no 36MP DSLRs around. Secondly they chose a chip that they knew the properties of very well, that just happens to be 2MP. Thirdly if they want resolution they can just do a composite like this one.

4 upvotes
MarkByland
By MarkByland (Nov 3, 2012)

I really like people that have absolutely no idea what they're talking about and complain.

The next time you use a re-chargeable battery, repeat your last statement.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
ebosch
By ebosch (Nov 3, 2012)

"NASA is not that smart"
So you think you're so smart?
try sending a probe with a camera to another planet and transferring the files back to earth.

2 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Nov 3, 2012)

Sure, NASA are not that smart, otherwise why didn't they invent a time machine, nip forwards in time to grab a Nikon D800, then go back in time and install it into the 2004/2005 designed rover. Dumber and dumber?

2 upvotes
tbcass
By tbcass (Nov 3, 2012)

I understand what you are saying but what would prevent them from redesigning and making the camera a few months or a year before launch. Makes no sense to me. Maybe the rover computer can't handle larger files. Also back in 2005 8 mp cameras were common.

1 upvote
Mollysnoot2
By Mollysnoot2 (Nov 3, 2012)

They were worried about getting one that wouldn't focus on the left-hand side.

1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Nov 3, 2012)

actually the comment about left-side focus is not so far off the mark. Whatever they bolt onto the rover, it has to have been through so many hoops first to prove its ultimate reliability and ruggedness, and they have to understand its every bit and bolt. So you can't just swap out a camera for a 'better' one after they closed the door on the proving stages.

0 upvotes
WilliamJ
By WilliamJ (Nov 4, 2012)

Poor rondhamalam ! You can see here how telling a joke is a hard mission sometimes. So many so-serious comment about a simple piece of humour that is yet clearly what it is !

Maybe should I be aware taking (too much ?) photos is not so good for our mental health....

2 upvotes
UponQuai
By UponQuai (Nov 4, 2012)

Ha ha ha ha .... only the answer from WilliamJ does make sense. All others just wet their pants struggle to grow up :)

1 upvote
thejohnnerparty
By thejohnnerparty (Nov 3, 2012)

Why don't I see an arm in the photo?

3 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Nov 3, 2012)

Because it is a composite of 55 photos.

3 upvotes
Lee Dolman
By Lee Dolman (Nov 3, 2012)

why would a composite not show the arm? it has to be present in each photo used in the composite. The point at which the arm exits the rover must be present in the photos. There qre still many people who think its not actually where they say it is of course.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Nov 3, 2012)

try starting your research at the first comment posted, way down below.

1 upvote
avbee
By avbee (Nov 3, 2012)

2 mp is high resolution due to far distances.....

0 upvotes
Absolutic
By Absolutic (Nov 3, 2012)

Blown highlights I see....

1 upvote
Mollysnoot2
By Mollysnoot2 (Nov 3, 2012)

Me too. NASA needs to keep an eye on the histograms, and shoot raw!! ;-)

1 upvote
Dave Luttmann
By Dave Luttmann (Nov 3, 2012)

Made up of "55 high resolution images"...since when did 2mp shots become high rez?

2 upvotes
John_Spencer
By John_Spencer (Nov 3, 2012)

One remarkable thing that no-one has commented on- there are no foreground/background mismatches due to parallax. That means that the arm was manipulated to point the camera in 55 different directions while keeping the optical center of the camera in the same 3-dimensional location. Quite a technical tour de force! I can never get that right with Photosynth...

1 upvote
Claudio NC
By Claudio NC (Nov 3, 2012)

Absolutely not true!
Look more carefully the image at full resolution.
There are many stitching errors everywhere, but particulary on the rover itself.
I have already commented this and made my quick verision of this composition in Flickr, yesterday:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpi-costerni/8148100978/in/photostream/lightbox/

0 upvotes
Valen305
By Valen305 (Nov 3, 2012)

What? No duck face?

0 upvotes
wutsurstyle
By wutsurstyle (Nov 3, 2012)

I like how the tire tread marks make no sense at all.. looks like the curiosity is a bit lost (no road map eh?) or taking ballroom lessons on Mars (okay lead with foot number 6..oops).

2 upvotes
Valen305
By Valen305 (Nov 3, 2012)

Maybe its using apple maps! lol

11 upvotes
imcolin
By imcolin (Nov 5, 2012)

It was a Martian wearing wellies not tire tread marks

1 upvote
wutsurstyle
By wutsurstyle (Nov 3, 2012)

The camera seems like it is suspended in air because it is a Composite (stitched) photo create with 55 different photos taken at 55 Different angles (of the robotic arm). Just like how some cameras can stitch a panorama shot and erase some people walking around. Same concept.

2 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Nov 2, 2012)

I see the rover used the fabled "MySpace angle"

3 upvotes
Shunda77
By Shunda77 (Nov 2, 2012)

So the arm is not attached to the buggy in the picture? I can't see where it joins on!

3 upvotes
Tee1up
By Tee1up (Nov 3, 2012)

I am looking at it as well wondering where is the arm? Bounced off a mirror?

2 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Nov 3, 2012)

Have a look at the two images on the right:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiosity_rover

1 upvote
Claudio NC
By Claudio NC (Nov 2, 2012)

I have posted my version of this panorama in Flickr, here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpi-costerni/8148100978/in/photostream/lightbox/

I have not had more than 1 hour of time to do this composition, I could have done better using missing shots.
The single shots posted by NASA-JPL have not all the same exposure and there are also abnormal reflections in the upper part of the rover that I have not removed.
But look at the parts of the rover in the lower left.
The stitching defects are much less obvious, you can make the comparison with the NASA version.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (Nov 2, 2012)

You did well..........

0 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Nov 3, 2012)

Hi, I did a similiar job. Less stitching erros and overall nicer image too :)

The original source for the RAW images (55 pieces) has not much landscape ( http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=84&camera=MAHLI ). I used the next day's RAW images (57 pieces, http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=85&camera=MAHLI ). This yields a yet unpublished hi-rez self portrait images but has some small holes I need to fill first.

1 upvote
Claudio NC
By Claudio NC (Nov 4, 2012)

I have already seen the SOL 85 images, need really only 1 pict to fill the left side made with SOL 84.
The NASA version have filled that part with another picture, that is not from that location and the color fusion also demonstrate the bad made insertion!

1 upvote
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Nov 2, 2012)

They already announced the cam´s specs. But they have not informent that , the veichle also has a tripod and remote control with it !

0 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Nov 2, 2012)

...so there is only one explanation, terrorist aliens kidnapped it, and now sending its pic to NASA and says "IT is in our hands ! If you want us to set him free, give us a million gallon fresh water ! "

(fresh water must be the currency of intergalactic solar system i guess ?! )

0 upvotes
Shynn
By Shynn (Nov 2, 2012)

WALL-E

0 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (Nov 3, 2012)

My small daughter said exactly the same when she saw the mars rover the first time, hahaha.

0 upvotes
Sergey Borachev
By Sergey Borachev (Nov 2, 2012)

So, this is how the earth will look like after all living things have perished.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 161
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