Emily LakdawallaApr 08, 2011

Having some fun with Curiosity's pretty face (plus, a conversation about Curiosity with a 4-year-old)

The photo I took of Curiosity's "face" and posted on Monday seems to have tickled a lot of people. I understand it's the subject of a "Photoshop this Mars rover" challenge at Fark (that link won't work for another 10 hours unless you're a subscriber, which I'm not, so I don't know what they're coming up with), and a couple of the guys over at unmannedspaceflight.com have been having a field day with it. Here's the photo:

Face to face with Curiosity
Face to face with Curiosity Emily Lakdawalla

I think it all started with those uneven-sized rectangular eyes, which seem kind of cubist, so: what if Picasso had painted Curiosity?

What if Picasso had painted Curiosity?
What if Picasso had painted Curiosity? Astro0

...or Da Vinci?

What if Da Vinci had painted Curiosity?
What if Da Vinci had painted Curiosity? Astro0

...or van Gogh?

What if van Gogh had painted Curiosity?
What if van Gogh had painted Curiosity? Dan Brennan

...or Warhol? I liked this one so much I put it on a T-shirt. (Let me know if you'd like to buy any of these other designs on T-shirts, mugs, etc.)

What if Warhol had painted Curiosity?
What if Warhol had painted Curiosity? Astro0

...or Wood?

What if Grant Wood had painted Curiosity?
What if Grant Wood had painted Curiosity? Dan Brennan

...never mind what would happen if Stanley Kubrick had cast Curiosity in a movie:

Here’s Curiosity!
Here’s Curiosity! Dan Brennan
2012: A Space Curiosity
2012: A Space Curiosity Astro0

If any of you out there are inspired to join in with this curiously creative craziness, here are the original images from my camera, which is a stereo camera, so there are both left-eye and right-eye views of Curiosity's face. I would love to see someone do something creative in stereo!! Here's a red-blue anaglyph, for those of you with 3D glasses:

Curiosity's face in 3D
Curiosity's face in 3D 3d Red-blue analgyph of the "face" of Curiosity, shot by Emily Lakdawalla while in the clean room at JPL. Emily Lakdawalla / Michael Howard

Also, since this is already a wholly unserious post, I have to share an amusing conversation I had with my 4-year-old daughter this morning. When she came downstairs for breakfast, a photo of Curiosity was on the screen of our kitchen computer.

"What's that vehicle?" she asked. (She knows the word "vehicle" because of a matching game we have where players have to match things by category -- animal or vehicle.)

"She's a Mars rover named Curiosity," I said. I pointed to the picture. "Look, she has six big wheels, and up here are her eyes. See how they're two different sizes, isn't that silly?"

"What other parts does she have?" my daughter asked.

"Well, she's got an arm, here, with lots of scientific instruments at the end. And up there above her eyes, that's a laser! She shoots rocks with that. Pew pew!"

"It's a girl rover who shoots bad guys with a laser!" my daughter summarizes. My husband cracks up.

"No, not bad guys," I said, backpedaling. I shouldn't have gone with the laser angle. "Rocks. She shoots rocks, and turns a little piece of them into plasma so she can study them." (She's familiar with the word "plasma" thanks to They Might Be Giants.)

My daughter mulls this over for a second or two, trying to sort it all out. "She shoots rocks," she says. "Bad rocks?"

Now both my husband and I are laughing, and I clarify to her that Curiosity isn't a fighting rover, she's a scientist rover, but I'm not sure I've convinced my daughter; I think she now thinks of Curiosity as a robot that is going to Mars to fight evil rocks!

"We're changing the world. Are you in?"
- CEO Bill Nye

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