Dingo Gap: new panorama and a rockhound’s bonanza

Mastcam panorama of Dingo Gap. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic
Mastcam panorama of Dingo Gap from sol 528. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

Dingo Gap has turned out to be quite an interesting place for the Curiosity rover, being both scenic and of great geological interest. Rocks of all sizes and shapes litter the landscape amid the cliffs and sand dunes and Curiosity is continuing to study this area before driving further south toward Mount Sharp. Another new panorama by Damia Bouic shows the scenery in stunning high resolution and there is also a great overview by Emily Lakdawalla on The Planetary Society blog.

As is common in such landscapes, some of the rocks can take on curious shapes, such as the ones below, and of course the “firepit” mentioned previously. What story do they tell about the history of this area of Mars? The thin, flat, platy rocks look a lot like the shale outcrops seen previously at Shaler. Are they shale also or something different? The perfect place for a rockhound!

"Snail shell" rock in Dingo Gap. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
This rock kind of looks like a snail shell and the sharply pointed end is quite distinct from the rounded “ribbed” main body. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Context image for the "snail shell" rock. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Context image for “snail shell” rock. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
The "shield" rock in Dingo Gap. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
This one looks like a shield. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Context image for "shield" rock. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Context image for “shield” rock. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
This boulder looks at first like a large rock sitting on a thin flat slab but on closer inspection appears to actually be all one formation. So how did it form? Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
This boulder looks at first like a large rock sitting on a thin flat slab but on closer inspection appears to actually be all one formation. So how did it form? Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Context image for previous rock/slab formation. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Context image for previous boulder/slab formation. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
A partially buried wall? Looks like one, but more likely just an eroded edge of the small cliff. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
A partially buried wall? Looks like one, but more likely just an eroded edge of the small cliff. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

5 Comments

  1. The “snail shell” rock looks exactly like a bishop that went missing from an old chess set of mine. Thanks for finding it! I’m off to Mars to retreve it RIGHT NOW!

  2. I wonder what NASA’s protocol is for handling the discovery of something clearly non-natural, something that needs no analysis, etc. They must have procedures in place. Would they show us? Would it have to go to the President first?
    Anyway, wonderful photos, great site.

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