We’re a few days beyond National Selfie Day, and while I’m not a big selfie guy, I am definitely a fan of selfies from one particular online personality: the Curiosity Rover, which is taking photos of itself and the surrounding area for its Twitter fans.
The surrounding area, by the way, is the planet Mars.
That alone is enough to make for a pretty striking self-portrait.
But there’s something else that makes these Martian selfies so special.
Unlike virtually every other selfie, Curiosity’s arm isn’t in the foreground of the picture, holding the camera out!
That’s pretty good even for a high-tech rover like Curiosity.
How the heck does it take selfies without jutting out its arm, or using a selfie stick?
The answer is, it’s a bit of a selfie trick.
Curiosity has 17 cameras, some for close-ups, some for wider pictures, some are greyscale, some are color.
The one it uses to take photos of itself is called the Mars Hand Lens Imager.
It’s on the end of a robotic arm that can extend out for up to two meters.
So when it takes a picture of Curiosity, its arm is in the picture.
But because it can extend out so far, it can take a picture of a part of itself, and then move to a different spot and take another picture of different parts.
Eventually it takes enough pictures of enough parts that they can be stitched together by NASA to create a composite image taken by Curiosity of Curiosity, with no selfie arm in view.
You could try this yourself, but having watched the NASA video showing how the robotic arm twists and turns to get the many facets of the rover, I can say it might only work if you’re a contortonist, or if you do a lot of stretching first.
The Force is strong in grey seals, judging by the findings of new research on speech by the University of St. Andrews.
They taught the seals to mimic human sounds, including music, and one of the melodies they used is the opening notes from Star Wars.
It’s not 100 percent accurate, but really, these seals have only begun to discover their power.
The researchers plan to complete their training. With our combined strength, they can end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy.
Why Don’t We See the Curiosity Rover’s Arm When it Takes a Selfie? (Universe Today)
Curiosity Rover Report (June 13, 2013): Curiosity’s Cameras (NASA on YouTube)
Grey seals copy human speech and music (University of St. Andrews)
Photo: Curiosity’s Selfie at the ‘Mary Anning’ Location on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)