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NASA Mars spacecraft snaps amazing image of rover far below

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter pulled off the feat of grabbing a photo of the car-size Curiosity rover.

The HiRise camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this view of the Curiosity rover in April 2021.

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

Like its sibling Perseverance rover, the Curiosity rover is roughly the size of a car. That's small compared with the wide expanse of the Martian landscape, but NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter still managed to capture an impressive shot of Curiosity as it played King of the Hill atop a Mars outcrop.

The spacecraft view -- released Friday as an image of the day from the HiRise camera team -- comes from April 18 when Curiosity was hanging out on a formation named Mont Mercou. Curiosity had already delivered a gorgeous selfie taken near the outcrop in March.

NASA also shared a vast panorama from the top of Mont Mercou taken by the rover in April. Between the three views, we get some very different perspectives on this particular location in Gale Crater.

"The rover previously drilled into the rocks at the base of the cliff," the HiRise team at the University of Arizona wrote. "Scientists are interested in comparing the rocks from the bottom to the top to investigate how any changes may relate to the appearance of the rocks exposed on the cliff face."  

As Curiosity's science mission continues, Perseverance and the Ingenuity helicopter are busy studying their surroundings in a different region of Mars. Add China's recently landed Zhurong rover to the list and there are now three functioning rovers on the red planet. There's plenty of room for all of them.

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