NASA's Curiosity Takes Selfie With 'Mary Anning' on the Red Planet

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Even After 2,922 Days On Mars Curiosity's Amazing Mission Remains Productive

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has a new selfie. This latest is from a location named "Mary Anning," after a 19th-century English paleontologist whose discovery of marine-reptile fossils were ignored for generations because of her gender and class. The rover has been at the site since this past July, taking and analyzing drill samples.

Made up of 59 pictures stitched together by imaging specialists, the selfie was taken on Oct. 25, 2020 – the 2,922nd Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's mission.

Since touching down in Gale Crater in 2012, Curiosity has been ascending Mount Sharp to search for conditions that might once have supported life. This past year, the rover has explored a region of Mount Sharp called Glen Torridon, which likely held lakes and streams billions of years ago. Scientists suspect this is why a high concentration of clay minerals and organic molecules was discovered there.

It will take months for the team to interpret the chemistry and minerals in the samples from the Mary Anning site. In the meantime, the scientists and engineers who have been commanding the rover from their homes as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic have directed Curiosity to continue its climb of Mount Sharp. The rover's next target of exploration is a layer of sulfate-laden rock that lies higher up the mountain. The team hopes to reach it in early 2021.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the Curiosity mission. Curiosity took the selfie using a camera called the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the end of its robotic arm. (A Video explaining how Curiosity's selfies are taken can be found below.) MAHLI was built by Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego

The Mars rover has drilled three samples of rock in this clay-enriched region since arriving in July

Curiosity snagged three samples of drilled rock at this site on its way out of the Glen Torridon region, which scientists believe preserves an ancient habitable environment. (Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.)

About Mary Anning

(Photo by Wikipedia)

Mary Anning was a 19th-century English paleontologist whose discovery of marine-reptile fossils were ignored for generations because of her gender and class. As a Dissenter (Protestant Christians who separated from the Church of England in the 17th and 18th centuries) and a woman, Anning was not able to fully participate in the scientific community of 19th-century Britain, who were mostly Anglican gentlemen. Anning struggled financially for much of her life. Her family was poor, and her father, a cabinetmaker, died when she was eleven.

Anning became well known in geological circles in Britain, Europe, and America, and was consulted on issues of anatomy as well as about collecting fossils. Nonetheless, as a woman, she was not eligible to join the Geological Society of London and she did not always receive full credit for her scientific contributions. Indeed, she wrote in a letter: "The world has used me so unkindly, I fear it has made me suspicious of everyone." The only scientific writing of hers published in her lifetime appeared in the Magazine of Natural History in 1839, an extract from a letter that Anning had written to the magazine's editor questioning one of its claims.

Curious how Curiosity Takes A Selfie??? Watch Below.

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