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NASA delivers trippy Mars rover selfie with a dizzying perspective

It looks like Mars is swirling all around Curiosity.

Curiosity's 360-degree selfie is made up of 81 images taken in November 2021.

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

It's time for a Mars-rover love-fest. NASA's Curiosity has blessed us with a new selfie, and it's as much about the red planet landscape as it is about the rover. 

The image, which NASA shared this week, shows the rover in the center with a dizzying array of rocks all around it. The 360-degree selfie is made from 81 images snapped on Nov. 20 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. 

The mosaic approach gives us an unusual perspective, as if the ground is rippling around the rover. I imagine if I visited Mars, held my arms out and spun around really fast in one spot, it would look a lot like this.  

Curiosity is exploring the Gale Crater on a mission to understand if Mars might have once been habitable for microbial life. There are some notable landmarks in the selfie. The rock structure behind the rover is called the Greenheugh Pediment. A hill on the right is named Rafael Navarro Mountain for Rafael Navarro-Gonzalez, a Curiosity mission astrobiologist who died earlier this year.

Another important spot is a U-shaped opening behind and to the left of the rover. Curiosity will be heading that way as it continues its explorations.

Meanwhile, Curiosity's sibling rover Perseverance is collecting rock samples in a different crater and China's Zhurong rover remains active, giving humanity a trio of wheeled vehicles that are sending back geologic and atmospheric data. And beautiful selfies to feed our sense of wonder.