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Sci-Tech

NASA Curiosity rover snaps striking Mars selfie before rolling out

Curiosity is looking good in its last selfie from Vera Rubin Ridge. Now it heads off to hunt for clay.

Curiosity poses for a selfie at Vera Rubin Ridge.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity is moving on. NASA's Mars rover has been in residence at a place called Vera Rubin Ridge for over a year, but it's now ready to go investigate an exciting new region of Mars. First, however, it struck a pose.

The rover took some time on Jan. 15 to snap the 57 images needed to generate a fresh selfie. The composite image shows the rover looking hearty and hale. You can see a little bit of the wheel damage NASA has been monitoring, but the holes and cracks aren't expected to slow the machine down.

The selfie shows a dusty horizon thanks to a local storm. A small drill hole is visible to the lower left of the rover. 

Curiosity is now heading for a "clay-bearing unit" south of the ridge. The rover team has been instructing Curiosity to take a series of short drives as it searches for the transition point from the ridge's bedrock to the clay-rich area.

"Clay minerals in this unit may hold more clues about the ancient lakes that helped form the lower levels on Mount Sharp," NASA says. This is the start of an fascinating new chapter in Curiosity's journey.