The Mountains of Mars

The mountains of Mars
Click for full resolution. The highest mountain on the right is about 450 feet high.

Even as the rover Perseverance is beginning its first science campaign on the floor of Jezero Crater, the rover Curiosity about 3,000 miles to the east has begun its climb into the mountains of Mars that surround the central peak of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp.

The mosaic above, made from two images taken by the rover’s right navigation camera (here and here), shows what Curiosity sees ahead. Since my last update on June 4th describing Curiosity’s future travels, the rover’s science team has pushed forward directly uphill towards the entrance to the canyon Gediz Vallis, visible as the gap between the mountains to the right and left in the above mosaic.

The overview map below shows the rover’s approximate present position, with the yellow lines indicating what the above photo is looking at.
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The big cliffs of Gediz Vallis on Mars

The Big Cliffs of Mt Sharp
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on May 21, 2021 by Curiosity’s chemistry camera (ChemCam), normally designed to look at high resolution close-up imagery of nearby objects.

However, it can also be used as what the science team call “a long distance spyglass.” The image to the right is an example, looking at what I think are the distant but steadily approaching big cliffs on the western wall of the canyon Gediz Vallis. Make sure you look close at the shadowed cliff-face, probably several hundred feet high. It is filled with huge rock faces reminiscent of the most stark rock cliffs on the mountains of Earth.

The two images below provide the context, which makes the image even more quite breath-taking.
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