Click for full image.
The Mars rover Curiosity has now climbed up into Maria Gordon Notch. The image to the right, reduced to post here, was taken by the rover’s left navigation camera and looks back at the entrance to the notch, with the floor and rim of Gale Crater beyond. The crater floor is about 1,700 feet below and the rim is about 30 miles away.
The red dotted line indicates the path Curiosity took after entering the notch, traveling about 80 feet to the southeast. The rover will continue south inside the notch for another 800 feet or so and then turn west, climbing out of the notch and up onto the Greenheugh Pediment and continuing west until it gets to the base of Gediz Vallis Ridge, a ridge that had been in prominent view about a year ago when the rover was north of it but lower down the mountain. (See the panorama in this February 2021 post.)
Below is another picture from a day earlier, this time taken by the rover’s high resolution mast camera. I think it looks up at the top of the western cliff, but now looks at that cliff after having gone past it slightly.
Click for full image.
The number of layers is amazing. More amazing however is the overhang, since it is also made of these many thin layers and thus cannot be very structurally strong. Yet the top of the cliff leans outward, with the layers actually tilted a considerable distance, with some appearing to even be slightly separated from the main body of the cliff. And yet they don’t fall.
The lighter Mars’ gravity, about 39% of Earth’s, explains this, but nonetheless the view is strange and alien. I can’t imagine such thin layers holding together and tilting outward like this on Earth. The top layers would certainly break off, especially the sections on the outermost overhang.
I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.
Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.
You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
If Patreon or Paypal don'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
Cortaro, AZ 85652
Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.