NASA Curiosity rover snaps charming Mars ‘plandid’ selfie


NASA’s Curiosity rover snapped a “plandid” selfie on Aug. 22, 2021.


This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

Standard selfies just aren’t enough anymore. NASA’s Curiosity rover is (a few years late ) getting in on the Instagram “plandid” trend for planned candid photos. One key requirement of a successful plandid is to not stare into the camera. It has to look casual, like you were unaware of the snapshot. Curiosity has it down.

The Curiosity selfie shot comes from Aug. 22 and was captured by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the end of its robotic arm. The original shot shows the rover’s “head” upside-down, with it slightly angled to the side. A perfect plandid.

“I hear ‘plandids’ are all the rage back on Earth. Did I get it right?” the Curiosity team tweeted on Monday. The rover’s selfie was lit only by the sun, giving it a dusky, atmospheric appearance.

It’s easy to anthropomorphize Mars rovers. Curiosity’s “face” is actually a suite of instruments on the end of its mast. The cameras there act like human-level eyes. 

The rover is currently working its way up the slope of massive Mount Sharp within the Gale Crater on Mars as it investigates its surroundings and looks for evidence the area might once have been habitable for microbial life. 

Curiosity just celebrated nine years on Mars with a striking panorama. This intimate plandid selfie is a perfectly personal counterpoint to that epic, sweeping landscape view.

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