Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Curiosity Update #1: The View From Mars

The Curiosity Rover has sent us its latest photos of the Gale Crater, looking towards Mount Sharp.

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.
'This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go,' said Mastcam (Mast Camera) principal investigator Michael Malin, of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. 'Those layers are our ultimate objective. The dark dune field is between us and those layers. In front of the dark sand you see redder sand, with a different composition suggested by its different color. The rocks in the foreground show diversity — some rounded, some angular, with different histories. This is a very rich geological site to look at and eventually to drive through.'

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