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Curiosity: Through the notch and looking back

Looking back at the entrance to Gordon Notch
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.

An alien Martian cliff
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.


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.


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  • Alton

    Strange New Worlds!

    Indeed !!!

    Looking forward to the Next….

    Thousand Pics !!!

  • Icepilot

    I’m not sure that layering necessarily implies weakness – those could be tenacious, strongly bonded layers.

  • Icepilot: You could be right, but I base my expectation on weakness based on previous evidence in other places such as the failed attempt by InSight’s mole to drill down because the soil was weak. The low Martian gravity appears to result in generally less dense material near the surface.

    In addition, these layers are part of the Greenheugh Pediment, which is a very broken layer sitting on top of other more structural sound layers. Take a look at the panorama at the top of this March 2020 rover update. It looks out across the Pediment, a broken landscape of disconnected paving stones.

  • “To explore strange, new worlds”


    That overhang is coming down, though. Although a little more slowly in MarsG.

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