As the last step in a series of inspections of the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, this camera's reclosable dust cover was opened for the first time during the 33rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 8, 2012), enabling MAHLI to take the center image of this set. The other two images presented here for comparison were taken before the cover was opened (left) and after the cover was closed again (right).
All three images here are thumbnails, approximately one-eighth the resolution of the full-size MAHLI images. The full-size images corresponding to the two cover-closed thumbnails were not yet received on Sept. 8. All three images were taken from the same position: about 5 feet (1.5 meters) above the ground, facing down. The patch of ground shown in each image is about 34 inches (86 centimeters) across.
Comparison of these cover-closed and cover-open images shows that haziness in MAHLI images taken on previous sols was due to a thin film of dust that settled on the dust cover during Curiosity's landing.
The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity.