Whoa: now that just might be (as Bad Astronomy blogger Dr. Phil Plait calls it) “the single greatest vacation picture ever taken.” The setting: somewhere in Gale Crater, on the surface of Mars. The subject: the Mars Curiosity rover… in a self-portrait. My first thought: the rover must have set up a camera on a tripod, and backed up a bit before triggering the shutter remotely. (Hey, if an engineering team can plan and execute a landing like this one, such a shot would seem to be small potatoes.) But no: the camera which took this photo is actually mounted on a mast arm which can be held out away from the rover’s body and aimed in any old direction — including back at itself.
So where is the mast arm in the photo? It’s there, all right: 55 times. That’s the number of separate images combined into one final shot; the mast has simply been cropped or otherwise edited out of the images wherever it appeared.
(A blogger at the Planetary Society also notes that if you view the full-sized image, you can see reflections of the mast arm camera in a couple of spots — essentially making this one of those classic “this is me, taking a photo of a camera taking a photo of me” gimmick shots.)
You can view or download a larger version of the photo here (1280 x 1780, 599KB) here, or the full-sized monster (5463 x 7595, 7.7MB) here. Either of those will allow you to see much more detail in small areas.
People, people: how cool is it to be alive at a time when we can see such stuff?