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NASA's InSight lander takes its first Mars selfie

InSight goes Instagram.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

InSight, welcome to the 'gram, my clever robot friend.*

NASA's Mars lander has been stretching and snapping photos of the martian landscape and bits of itself since its successful landing on Nov. 26. It's even captured the dim rumbling of the Martian winds. However, it's been missing a crucial piece of the photography tool kit: The full-on selfie.

That all changed Dec. 11, when the presumably millennial lander snapped a series of 11 images via the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), attached to its robotic arm. By stitching the 11 images together (in the same way that the Curiosity Rover has taken selfies in the past), the system gives us our first look of the lander resting on the martian surface, solar arrays spread wide, suite of instruments smiling back at us.

And what an image

InSight has clearly read a few articles on how to take the perfect selfie. High-angle, great lighting, edited to perfection, #nofilter -- and all the while avoiding the cliche MySpace bathroom selfie by traveling to another planet entirely. Bravo, little lander. I could learn a thing or two from you.

A second image was also beamed back by the lander, of its Martian office, the "crescent of terrain" (says NASA) that the lander will be stationed in while it bores through the soil. That image, below, was composed of 52 individual photos and displays a boring region of Elysium Planitia that lacks rocks, holes or bumps. 

landing-area-insight
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Boring is exactly what NASA was going for, though.

"This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren't on Mars, but we're glad to see that," said Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator. Without any obstructions or weird topography, the site will leave InSight's suit of instruments "extremely safe." That bodes well for InSight's heat-flow probe, which needs to drill five metres down to take Mars' temperature.

InSight's scientific insights are still a few weeks away, with NASA scientists beginning the process of deciding where, exactly, the lander's instruments will be placed. 

(*We are friends, OK. You can't tell me any different.)

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