21/08/2015 7:12 PM AEST | Updated 21/08/2015 7:16 PM AEST

Mars Rover Just Snapped An Awe-Inspiring New Selfie

The intrepid robot took time from drilling to capture this unforgettable image.


Here's a new image of the Mars Curiosity rover looking like a conquering hero on an alien world. 

This selfie released by NASA on Thursday is actually a composite of 92 low-angle photos snapped on Aug. 5. It shows the rover in position after drilling a rock nicknamed "Buckskin" on a hill about 20 feet high in the Marias Pass area of lower Mount Sharp. (Upper Mount Sharp is visible in the background of the image.)

Because the image is a composite, only part of the robot's arm is visible -- although you can see its shadow. And if you look really closely, you might even spot what looks like an emoji in the drilling pattern:

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Who said space robots don't have a sense of humor? 

NASA also released a stereographic projection, in which the horizon is turned into a circle -- making it seem as if the rover is sitting atop a tiny planet of its own: 


NASA said the site was chosen for drilling because the rock in the area is unusually high in silica and hydrogen.

The hydrogen is a sign of water bound to minerals in the ground, the agency said on its website. 

"The ground about 1 meter beneath the rover in this area holds three or four times as much water as the ground anywhere else Curiosity has driven during its three years on Mars," Igor Mitrofanov of Space Research Institute, Moscow, said in a news release.

Mitrofanov is principal investigator for the rover's Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument, which monitors hydrogen levels in the ground. 

Curiosity's internal laboratory is currently analyzing a sample it collected while drilling.  


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