How Curiosity Took a Self-Portrait
A video animation shows how the Mars rover snapped a picture of itself.
The answer to who snapped the rover's picture lies not with extraterrestrials but with the imagination of three men, precision robotics from 130 million miles away, days of planning on Earth, and a bit of artistic Photoshopping.
A video released last week by NASA illustrates the daylong rover gymnastics used to take the self-portrait. As the video shows, the camera lens was kept in one place as much as possible to minimize parallax—the seeming change in location of objects within the images caused by a change in camera position—while the arm went through its contortions.
Plans for Curiosity's self-portrait began last year when film director James Cameron and Mars camera wizards Michael Malin and Michael Ravine (of Malin