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The Martian view from high on Mount Sharp

The Martian view of mountains
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was downloaded today from left navigation camera on the Mars rover Curiosity.

The image looks to the north from the lower foothills of Mount Sharp. The view is downhill across the floor of Gale Crater. The intermittent dotted red line that weaves between those foothills marks the approximate route that Curiosity took to climb through them to reach this point.

About 20 to 25 miles away the mountainous rim of the crater can be seen dimly. The air is filled with dust, because its is almost the peak of the dust season at Gale Crater, located just south of the Martian equator.

The overview map below provides some further context.

Overview map

The blue dot on the map to the right marks Curiosity’s present position. The yellow lines indicate the area covered by the picture above. The red dotted line is the rover’s planned route, with the white dotted line its actual travel route.

The rover is making very steady and slow progress uphill inside Gediz Vallis. The rough and rocky ground, as shown by the picture, makes long daily traverses difficult if not impossible. Instead, each drive covers only a small distance so that the rover can pick its way among the rocks and minimize damage to its already damaged wheels.

Right now Curiosity is working its way along the side of a low cliff that is an extension of Gediz Vallis Ridge, which lower down the mountain was much higher and ended in a peak. As it has climbed into this slot canyon it has also worked its way to the top of that ridge, though it has done it the long way. Scientists are now using its cameras and robot arm to get a detailed look at the upper levels of that ridge’s geology, as it appears they consider it an important marker of past geological events.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Blackwing1

    If I didn’t know that this image is from Mars I’d swear it was a picture of the mud and rocks from a drained reservoir here out West. The multiple “benches” of erosion as the water level is dropped in stages looks almost identical.

    Thank you once again for finding some very interesting pictures.

  • Richard M

    As Curiosity keeps crawling up Mount Sharp, it’s delivering some really amazing photos. You can see quite a distance from where it’s at, these days.

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