NASA's New Mars Lander Takes 1st Selfie, and it’s a stunner.
NASA's new Mars lander has snapped its first selfie while hanging out on the planet’s dusty surface. The InSight spacecraft, which touched down on the flat equatorial plain Elysium Planitia on Nov. 26, took the selfie using the camera on its 5.9-foot-long (1.8 meters) robotic arm. The photo is a composite made up of 11 separate images, NASA officials said.
The same imaging process used by NASA's Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together, and also lets them see the condition of the hardware that will spend the next several months listening closely to the inner workings of Mars.
As you can see from the image, InSight’s arm isn’t actually visible in the final “selfie.” That’s because NASA pieces together multiple angle shot at different times to create the final product.
“The near-absence of rocks, hills and holes means it’ll be extremely safe for our instruments,” InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a statement. “This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren’t on Mars, but we’re glad to see that.”
Indeed, it appears that InSight landed inside an impact crater that later filled with sand, NASA officials said. The soft ground should ease the digging for the heat probe, which was designed to get between 10 feet and 16 feet (3 to 5 meters) underground.