Sure, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has seen sand before, but this dune is by far the biggest and the six-wheeled rover is making the most of it.

PHOTOS: Curiosity Plays in Sandy Martian Dunes

Seen here on sol 1,228 (Jan. 19) of its mission, Curiosity another another picturesque selfie, using its robotic arm-mounted Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). MAHLI snapped 57 high-resolution images that were then stitched together to create the composite we see here (the full-resolution version can be viewed on the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory photo release), incorporating the rover and the dark sands of “Namib Dune.”

These selfies not only make for beautiful Mars portraits, they are used by mission scientists to check on the physical condition of the rover and keep track of wear and tear.

PHOTOS: The Mysteries Behind the Dunes of Mars

This dune is part of the “Bagnold Dune Field” that can be found along the northwestern slopes of Aeolis Mons — the 3.4 mile-high mountain informally known as “Mount Sharp,” in the center of Gale Crater. These dunes are of particular interest to mission scientists as orbital observations have shown that this field is active; Mars winds continually shape the terrain, causing the dunes to slowly roll across the landscape at a tortoise-like pace of 1 meter per year.

To better understand the dune’s material, Curiosity has been capturing microscopic images of the sand, revealing its grain’s very terrestrial-looking shape. Also, the rover has scooped some samples for further analysis inside its on-board chemistry lab. Before doing so, however, the rover encountered a minor difficulty with its Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) that is used to sort different sized grains of sandy material for analysis. An actuator in CHIMRA didn’t function as expected during processing of a third scoop of material, leading mission engineers to investigate the problem.

ANALYSIS: Mapping Mars’ Ripples Unveils Dune Mysteries

Despite the setback, samples of the dune have been delivered for analysis. In addition, Curiosity has been imaging the same location of the nearby dune repeatedly for the past 2 months in the hope of measuring the active dune’s movement with the Martian wind.

For more information about Curiosity’s dune study and the recent challenges it has faced, read the NASA news update.