My pessimistic prediction that Curiosity’s science team would take the least risky route and thus not pass close to the butte with the balanced rock has fortunately turned out to be very wrong! They have moved Curiosity into the closest gap to get the best views of both the balanced rock as well as the butte behind it. The image on the right, cropped, was taken by the rover’s mast camera as Curiosity entered the gap between the buttes. It shows clearly that balanced rock broke off from the layers above and landed on its side.
The image below the fold shows the same butte after Curiosity had passed the balanced rock (inside red box).
To the right is a close-up showing the area in the red box. You can clearly see the vertical bedding planes on the backside of the rock. In fact, if you look at the entire face of the butte as well as the debris below, you can see that it is heavily layered, and that pieces have been breaking off it repeatedly to roll down the slope. Not surprisingly, the science team has been taking a lot of images of this face and its layers.
As noted at the second link above,
The weekend plan went well, so the plan for Sol 1432 is to keep driving! Curiosity will go about 52 meters across a patch of sand, but before that we have a short science block.
To my delight, they are going to cross the patch of sand that crosses the gap, taking the most direct route into the mesa-filled territory to the south, heading directly towards Mt. Sharp’s upper slopes.
From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.
“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.
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