On October 24, 2019, NASA has published a new selfie of the Curiosity Mars Rover, which was taken on October 11, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission. The space agency has also announced that Curiosity’s successor, the Mars 2020 Rover now stands on its own six wheels.
Curiosity’s new selfie
From the announcement of NASA:
“NASA’s Curiosity rover took this selfie on October 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, nicknamed “Glen Etive” (pronounced “glen EH-tiv”). About 984 feet (300 meters) behind the rover, Vera Rubin Ridge rises up. Behind it lies the floor of Gale Crater, which Curiosity is exploring, and the northern rim of the crater.”
“Just left of the rover are the two drill holes, called “Glen Etive 1” (right) and “Glen Etive 2″ (left). Curiosity performed its first wet-chemistry experiment on a drilled sample at this location. The rover can analyze the chemical composition of rock samples by powderizing them with the drill, then dropping the samples into a portable lab in its belly called Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM).”
“This panorama is made up of 57 individual images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), a camera on the end of the rover’s robotic arm. The images are stitched together into a panorama; the robotic arm isn’t visible in the parts of the images used in the composite.”
“MAHLI was built by Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. The SAM instrument suite was built at Goddard Space Flight Center with significant elements provided by industry, university, and national and international NASA partners. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL designed and built the project’s Curiosity rover.”
NASA has also published an annotated version of this image.
A complete set of wheels now installed on Mars 2020 Rover
Mars 2020 (still hasn’t got an official name – but there’s a contest to name it), Curiosity’s successor, now has a full set of six wheels and stands on them, NASA announced on October 24.
The space agency published a time-lapse video, taken on October 8, 2019, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, that captured the first time the Mars 2020 rover carries its full weight on its legs and wheels. The rover was photographed in JPL’s Simulator Building, where it underwent weeks of testing.
Scheduled for launch July 2020, The Mars 2020 rover doesn’t have a name yet. NASA has organized a contest titled “Name the Rover” and invited the United States students grades K-12 to suggest names for the rover.
The space agency announced that “NASA invites U.S. students to submit essays to name NASA’s next Mars rover. Kindergarten through 12th-grade students have until November 1, 2019, to submit their name.”
Register, learn more and submit entries (or sign up to be a judge) using this link.
The winner of the contest to name NASA’s Curiosity rover in 2009 was Clara Ma. She was a 12-year-old sixth-grader in a Kansas City suburb in 2008 when she read a magazine article about NASA’s essay contest to name the next Mars rover.
Ma knew precisely which name to propose, according to NASA: “Curiosity is the passion that drives us through our everyday lives,” she wrote in her short essay. “We have become explorers and scientists with our need to ask questions and to wonder.”
Ma won the contest; the rover Curiosity launched in 2011 and is hard at work today looking into whether ancient Mars ever had the right environmental conditions to support life.
Ma graduated earlier this year (2019) with a degree in geophysics from Yale University.
“New Selfie Shows Curiosity, the Mars Chemist” on NASA.gov
“Mars 2020 Stands on Its Own Six Wheels” on NASA.gov
Name the Rover Contest on NASA.gov
“Name NASA’s next Mars rover” on EarthSky.org
“Naming a NASA Mars Rover Can Change Your Life” on NASA.gov