NASA Mars spacecraft snapped a celebratory selfie

The Maven orbiter looks shiny in a rare self-portrait.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

NASA and Mars and selfies go together like Matt Damon and Mars and potatoes. 

The agency's latest Red Planet-related selfie comes from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (Maven) spacecraft in honor of its fourth anniversary in orbit at Mars.


This composite image shows NASA's Maven in orbit around Mars.

University of Colorado/NASA

Maven is on a mission to study Mars' upper atmosphere and how it influences the planet's climate and potential habitability. 

The unusual selfie comes from the spacecraft's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument, which is usually looking at the planet's atmosphere. It's mounted on a boom arm that NASA says can act like a selfie stick. The picture shows "ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight reflected off of components of the spacecraft."

NASA had to stitch together 21 different images to make the final image, which marks the spacecraft's arrival in Mars orbit on Sept. 21, 2014. The space agency also drew in some lines to show how the visible parts of Maven connect to each other. 

Maven has had an eventful time at Mars, helping scientists understand how solar storms interact with the atmosphere, and aiding in the discovery of new types of Martian auroras. 

The Maven selfie joins a fun array of Mars self-portraits, which normally come from the rovers down on the planet's surface. 

Maven's moment of glory is all the more impressive considering the challenges of snapping a selfie with a camera made to study the Red Planet's atmosphere while zipping around in orbit.

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