Jan. 29 (UPI) -- With the government shutdown over, NASA is once again sharing selfie photographs snapped by the space agency's Martian rover Curiosity.
"We're sorry, but we will not be posting updates to this blog during the government shutdown," officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted to the mission blog.
This week, NASA scientists confirmed Curiosity has taken its last selfie on Vera Rubin Ridge and is now making its way down the slope Mount Sharp's clay region. The rover has spent more than year on the ridge, sampling the soil and documenting various geological features.
NASA scientists were initially drawn to the ridge by the strong hematite signal, a mineral that forms in water. Data collected on the ridge has helped scientists better understand how so many different rocks are held together -- and how water likely played a role in shaping the region's geography.
Curiosity's stay on Vera Rubin Ridge has featured ups and downs, literally and figuratively. After spending more than a year without full range of motion with its drill, engineers taught the rover a workaround drilling technique called Feed Extended Drilling. The effort was a success, allowing Curiosity to start drilling rock samples again.
The newly shared selfie photo is not a single image, but 57 pictures taken using Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager camera. Scientists stitched them together before posting the final selfie on NASA's website.
"The Rock Hall drill hole is visible to the lower left of the rover," NASA reported. "The scene is dustier than usual at this time of year due to a regional dust storm."