Curiosity’s way forward


Readers!
 
For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. They practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.
 
Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.

 

Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Panorama with balanced rock

As Curiosity moves up into the foothills of Mount Sharp the terrain is getting increasingly interesting. The image above is a panorama I have created from three Left Navigation Camera images posted here on Sunday evening. It shows what I think will be the general direction mission scientists wish to send Curiosity. (Note that the top of the leftmost mesa is not as flat as shown, as its top was cut off in the original image.)

Below is a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image showing Curiosity’s present position from above. I have annotated it to show the general view as shown in the above image. I have also marked on both the location of the balanced rock first photographed on July 7.

Orbital view of Curiosity's position

To get a sense of scale, note that the approximate distances of Curiosity’s last two drives, indicated by the yellow dots, is approximately 80 feet.

It appears to me that they are searching for the best route through and between the mesas that can be seen in the distance to the southwest. The peak of Mount Sharp is to the south, so heading in that direction makes some sense. From what I can tell looking at the orbital image, the best route in that direction seems to take them through the gap that contains the balanced rock. though they may decide that all of this terrain is too rough, forcing them to send Curiosity around to the north and west. Heading to the east of the mesas appears to be a less appealing choice because it puts them too close to some sand dunes that they have been skirting.

If they do go through one of those gaps, however, the journey should get very very interesting, with some very cool images along the way.

Share

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *