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Curiosity looks back at its entire journey

Curiosity looking back across Gale Crater
Click for high resolution mosaic. Original images here, here, here, and here.

Wide overview map
Click for interactive map.

Cool image time! The mosaic above was created from four photos taken by Curiosity’s left navigation camera on December 12, 2021, just after the rover had moved into Maria Gordon Notch. The view is to the north, looking back at the rover’s journey climbing up the floor of Gale Crater into the foothills of Mount Sharp. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen about 25 to 30 miles away.

The cliff in shadow on the left is about 40 feet high. The cliff in sunlight on the right is between 30 to 60 feet high, depending on where you measure.

The overview map to the right shows Curiosity’s entire journey, with the yellow lines indicating the approximate area covered by the mosaic above. All told the rover has climbed about 1,700 feet since it landed. While much of the rover’s route is blocked from our view by the cliffs on left, the nearest sand dune sea in the center of the mosaic is the one that the rover circled around from January 2021 to June 2021.

Close overview map

The overview map to the right provides a closer view of Curiosity’s recent travels, with its future planned route indicated by the red dotted line.

In the last year the rover science team appears to have decided to accelerate the journey. It seems they have been climbing up as fast as they can, with breaks to do new drill holes after each gain of 25 meters (about 82 feet) in elevation. If this pattern continues, they will reach Gediz Vallis Ridge in about six months, and entering Gediz Valles in about eighteen months.

All of this can change day-by-day, as the rover explores new terrain. The science team might decide to spend more time at some locations, or it might decide they can move forward more quickly. It does seem however that they are in more of a hurry to get into the mountains. I suspect they recognize that the rover is about to celebrate ten years on the Martian surface, and are worried about its future. The more Curiosity can climb, the more data they can gather about the geological history of Gale Crater and Mount Sharp. Doing it as quickly as possible might be a wise decision at this point in the rover’s journey.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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