Few things in life captivate us more than looking at images from other planets, no matter how dull these images might seem. This is especially true for Mars, as it’s where we’ve sent the most robots to explore its cold and dry surface. The very first image from the surface of Mars in July 1976 was nothing more than the Viking 1 lander’s footpad and some rocks, but no one cared about these mundane details because we were looking at an image from Mars. We were looking at the surface of another world for the first time in human history, and not only were we captivated by it, but we wanted more.
The first photograph ever taken on the surface of the planet Mars. It was obtained by Viking 1 just minutes after the spacecraft landed successfully landing on Mars in July 1976. (Credit: NASA/JPL)
While the images sent back by the Viking 1 and 2 landers were breathtaking, both landers were unable to take images of themselves due to their design. They couldn’t take selfies, and everyone loves a selfie. No matter the setting or circumstance, it’s important to document that you were there. Thankfully, as the number of robots landing on the Red Planet increased, so did the engineering. This included far better images, including selfies.
The first space selfie on another planet was taken by the Curiosity rover on September 7, 2012 based on the local time at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The Curiosity rover used the Mars hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) located on its arm to obtain the self-portrait. The image showed the top of Curiosity’s Remote Sensing Mast including the ChemCam, two Mast cameras and four Navigation cameras. This first space selfie wasn’t just a technological marvel, but it demonstrated that the robot itself was real.
Selfie of NASA’s Curiosity rover taken on September 17, 2012. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems)
Fast forward almost 10 years, and the most recent selfie taken on Mars was from NASA’s InSight lander, which took this image on April 24, 2022, the 1,211th Martain day, or sol, of the mission. Unfortunately, this was the final selfie of this amazing lander, as its solar panels have become so dusty that it is producing less power, which means its days studying the Red Planet are numbered. Because of this, the team was scheduled put the lander’s robotic arm in its resting position (called the “retirement pose”) for the last time in May 2022.
NASA’s InSight Mars lander took this final selfie on April 24, 2022, the 1,211th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (Credit: