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Mars rover Curiosity snaps hi-res self portraits

(SPACE.com) NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is doing a bit of mechanical navel-gazing on the Red Planet, snapping ultra-clear pictures of itself while testing a powerful camera at the tip of its robotic arm.

The stunning new Mars photos by Curiosity show detailed views of its wheels and underbelly, a self-portrait of the robot's head-like camera mast and even a snapshot of an odd bit of Americana -- a 1909 Lincoln penny used for calibration -- that hitched a ride to the Red Planet with the rover.

The Curiosity rover took the photos over the weekend using its Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, which is a focusable color camera attached to an instrument turret at the end of Curiosity's 7-foot (2.1-meter) robotic arm. MAHLI snapped its first photo of the Martian surface without a protective dust cover on Saturday (Sept. 8), and then began taking clear pictures of Curiosity itself a day later.

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In one photo, the camera takes a clear look at Curiosity's three left wheels in a view that is framed by the rover's belly above. Curiosity's ultimate destination, the 3-mile-high (5-kilometer) Mount Sharp that rises from the center of the rover's Gale Crater landing site, can be seen in the distance. [11 Amazing Things Curiosity Can Do]

Portrait Oil Painting

Another snapshot, taken on Friday (Sept. 7), captures a dusty view of Curiosity's camera mast. The photo appears hazy not because of a dust stormArticle Search, but because the dust cover on MAHLI was closed at the time.

Source: cbsnews.com

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