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Tracks from Eastbound Drive on Curiosity’s Sol 22

On Aug. 28, 2012, during the 22nd Martian day, or sol, after landing on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover drove about 52 feet (16 meters) eastward, the longest drive of the mission so far. The drive imprinted the wheel tracks visible in this image. The rover’s rear Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam) took the image after the drive. Curiosity’s front and rear Hazcams have fisheye lenses for enabling the rover to see a wide swath of terrain. This image has been processed to straighten the horizon. 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

08.27.2012

Getting to Know Mount Sharp (ANNOTATED)


This image taken by the Mast Camera (MastCam) on NASA’s Curiosity rover highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed. Prior to the rover’s landing on Mars, observations from orbiting satellites indicated that the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, below the line of white dots, are composed of relatively flat-lying strata that bear hydrated minerals. Those orbiter observations did not reveal hydrated minerals in the higher, overlying strata. 

The MastCam data now reveal a strong discontinuity in the strata above and below the line of white dots, agreeing with the data from orbit. Strata overlying the line of white dots are highly inclined (dipping from left to right) relative to lower, underlying strata. The inclination of these strata above the line of white dots is not obvious from orbit. This provides independent evidence that the absence of hydrated minerals on the upper reaches of Mount Sharp may coincide with a very different formation environment than lower on the slopes. The train of white dots may represent an “unconformity,” or an area where the process of sedimentation stopped. 

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS 

08.27.2012

Layers at the Base of Mount Sharp


A chapter of the layered geological history of Mars is laid bare in this postcard from NASA’s Curiosity rover. The image shows the base of Mount Sharp, the rover’s eventual science destination.

This image is a portion of a larger image taken by Curiosity’s 100-millimeter Mast Camera on Aug. 23, 2012. See http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16104. Scientists enhanced the color in one version to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain. 

For scale, an annotated version of the figure highlights a dark rock that is approximately the same size as Curiosity. The pointy mound in the center of the image, looming above the rover-sized rock, is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high. 

To see a close-up of the layered buttes of Mount Sharp, seehttp://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16105

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS 

08.27.2012

Focusing the 100-millimeter Mastcam


This image is from a test series used to characterize the 100-millimeter Mast Camera on NASA’s Curiosity rover. It was taken on Aug. 23, 2012, and looks south-southwest from the rover’s landing site.

The 100-millimeter Mastcam has three times better resolution than Curiosity’s 34-millimeter Mastcam, though it has a narrower field of view. For comparison, seehttp://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16103

The gravelly area around Curiosity’s landing site is visible in the foreground. Farther away, about a third of the way up from the bottom of the image, the terrain falls off into a depression (a swale). Beyond the swale, in the middle of the image, is the boulder-strewn, red-brown rim of a moderately-sized impact crater. Farther off in the distance, there are dark dunes and then the layered rock at the base of Mount Sharp. Some haze obscures the view, but the top ridge, depicted in this image, is 10 miles (16.2 kilometers) away.

Scientists enhanced the color in one version to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain. A raw version is also available.

An annotated version of the image indicates the distances to different features. They were calculated using a computer program that analyzes data from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

To see a close-up of the layered buttes of Mount Sharp, seehttp://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16105

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS 

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