Ten NASA Self-Portraits
On September 7, 2012, the Curiosity rover used a camera located on its arm to obtain this self portrait, which shows the top of Curiosity’s Remote Sensing Mast.
Curiosity, the recently dispatched Mars rover, took a beautiful photograph of itself earlier this month. Given the great range of terrestrial artists who have documented themselves—Cindy Sherman, Lee Friedlander, Tseng Kwong Chi, Nikki S. Lee—it’s not easy for a humble space rover to distinguish itself in the field of self-portraiture. Curiosity’s success inspired us to see how other space travellers saw themselves. Here’s a selection of ten NASA self-portraits. Click on the red arrows in the upper right corner for a fullscreen view.
This snapshot of the shadow of NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover comes courtesy of the rover’s front hazard-avoidance camera, taken as it moved into Endurance Crater on July 26, 2004, the date when the rover fully doubled its primary mission.
In November of 1969, the Apollo 12 astronaut-photographer Charles (Pete) Conrad took this photograph of colleague Alan Bean’s collecting lunar soil on the Oceanus Procellarum. The lunar horizon, the harsh environment of the moon’s Ocean of Storms, and Conrad himself can be seen reflected on Bean’s helmet.
From August 24 to 27, 2005, NASA’s Mars rover Spirit acquired hundreds of individual frames to create this 360-degree panorama on the summit of Husband Hill inside Mars’s Gusev Crater, its largest ever panorama image. This bird’s-eye view combines a self-portrait of the spacecraft deck and a panoramic mosaic of the Martian surface.
This view is a vertical projection that combines hundreds of exposures taken between June 5 and 12, 2008, by the Surface Stereo Imager camera on NASA’s Mars Phoenix Lander and projects them as if looking down from above. The black circle is where the camera itself is mounted on the lander.
A boulder-strewn field of red rocks stretches across Mars’s Utopian Plain in this self-portrait of Viking 2, which landed on September 3, 1976. Fine particles of red dust have settled on spacecraft’s surfaces.
The astronaut Garrett Reisman took this self-portrait in May, 2010, while participating in the first of three spacewalks scheduled for the Atlantis crew and their cosmonaut hosts. The earth and part of the International Space Station are among the objects seen in his visor.
This self-portrait, a mosaic of twenty images, shows the deck of NASA’s Curiosity rover from the rover’s navigation camera. The back of the rover can be seen at the top left of the image, and two of the rover’s right side wheels can be seen on the left. The undulating rim of Gale Crater forms the light ridge in the background.
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta comet-chaser took this picture of itself in space in May, 2004. The back of a solar panel is seen here, and the contours on the panel are illuminated by sunlight and surfaces of the spacecraft main body are recognizable at lower right.
The left eye of Curiosity’s mast camera took this image of the camera on the rover’s arm on September 5, 2012. The image shows that the arm camera is coated with a thin film of Martian dust, which accumulated during Curiosity’s final descent to the surface, as the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft’s descent-stage engines were disrupting the surface nearby.