WASHINGTON: NASA's Curiosity rover has taken its last selfie on the twisting ridge on Mars that has been the robotic explorer's home for more than a year, the US space agency said. After having collected new samples from the Vera Rubin Ridge, the car-sized rover will now descend toward a clay region of Mount Sharp.
On December 15 last year, Curiosity drilled its 19th sample at a location on the ridge called Rock Hall. On January 15, the spacecraft used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the end of its robotic arm to take a series of 57 pictures, which were stitched together into a selfie.
The "Rock Hall" drill hole is visible to the lower left of the rover in the image. The scene is dustier than usual at this time of year due to a regional dust storm, NASA said. Curiosity has been exploring the ridge since September of 2017. It is now headed into the "clay-bearing unit," which sits in a trough just south of the ridge.
Clay minerals in this unit may hold more clues about the ancient lakes that helped form the lower levels on Mount Sharp. Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable to support microbes.