NASA’s Curiosity, currently on its long journey to Mars' Mount Sharp, had its portrait taken from high above the planet by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In the photo, Curiosity appears as a tiny dot, but its tracks can be clearly seen on the Martian surface.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image is a wide image of Mars that also captures Curiosity working on June 27, 2013. Curiosity is currently on its journey from Gale Crater, its landing location and primary observation area, to Mount Sharp. The rover spent the beginning of 2013 in the “Glenelg” area of the Gale Crater.
NASA’s MRO launched on Aug. 12, 2005, and has been orbiting the planet and capturing detailed images of Martian surface features using its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. Most recently, images taken by the HiRISE camera were used as evidence of an ancient ocean that once covered a third of Mars.
On June 27, MRO captured Curiosity exploring the “Shaler” rock outcrop. Curiosity had briefly photographed the area in late 2012 but returned for a more thorough exploration in June. Curiosity’s observations of the Shaler rock outcrop produced evidence suggesting flowing water in the area at some point in Mars’ history.
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The MRO image provides a detailed look at Curiosity’s progress up to that point. In the left part of the image, the two blue dots mark the Bradbury Landing location where Curiosity first touched down on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, notes NASA. The marks are burns marks caused by the two rockets that powered the skycrane landing system. From that point, Curiosity’s tracks are clearly visible and can be used to trace Curiosity’s journey to the Shaler rock outcrop.
In that location, Curiosity appears as a small dot, similar to how Earth looks from Saturn or Mercury. On Curiosity’s Twitter account, the rover quipped, “Hey, pale blue dot, here's a pale blue bot,” noting the similarity between the HiRISE image and the images of Earth taken by NASA’s Cassini and Messenger spacecraft.