Tag Archives: Curiosity

Image Gallery: sunset in Gale crater

Sunset in Gale crater, as seen by Curiosity. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

Sunset in Gale crater, as seen by Curiosity. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

Another beautiful postcard panorama from Damia Bouic, this time showing a dusky sky during sunset as seen by Curiosity in Gale crater. In this view, the Sun is setting behind the western mountainous rim of the huge crater. Scenes like this are amazingly reminiscent of Earth, even though Mars is a truly alien world in many ways.

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Image Gallery: ‘Australia’ rock with weird edges

"Australia" rock seen by Curiosity Click to view larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

“Australia” rock seen by Curiosity Click to view larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

This is an interesting rock slab just seen by the Curiosity rover on Mars. Kind of looks like Australia… It has very thin edges like other similar rock slabs seen before, but note the little pebbles stuck to the edges. How do they stay in place like that?

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Mount Sharp and outcrops

View of Mount Sharp and nearby outcrops on sol 548. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

View of Mount Sharp and nearby outcrops on sol 548. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

This is another beautiful new panoramic image from Damia Bouic, showing Mount Sharp in the distance and thinly layered outcrops in the foreground on sol 548. Curiosity has just passed through Violet Valley and is making good progress toward the base of Mount Sharp, which is still about 5 kilometres (3 miles) away. The full-size version of the image is here.

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MIneral veins in Dingo Gap

Mineral veins in Dingo Gap. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Mineral veins in Dingo Gap on sol 538. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Curiosity has now moved well past Dingo Gap and into Moonlight Valley, but not before taking some close-up images of more of those interesting mineral veins. No word yet if any analysis was done, but similar veins seen before turned out to be gypsum. And like those, the minerals likely precipitated out of water filling in cracks in rocks and then long after, weathering eroded away softer rock around them, leaving them as veins standing up from the surface.

Mineral veins in Dingo Gap on sol 538. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Mineral veins in Dingo Gap on sol 538. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Mineral veins in Dingo Gap on sol 538. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

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Looking back at Dingo Gap

View looking back at Dingo Gap pn sol 538. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Damia Bouic

View looking back at Dingo Gap 0n sol 538. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Damia Bouic

Curiosity has now crossed through Dingo Gap and is continuing toward Mount Sharp. This wonderful composite image by Damia Bouic shows the view looking back at DG, with the wheel tracks over the large sand dune clearly seen. Nice! The rover drivers were cautious about driving over the dune, as per previous experiences with Spirit and Opportunity, but Curiosity made it over no problem and hardly even sank in at all.

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Curiosity sees Earth in the Martian twilight sky

Earth and Moon in the Martian evening sky, as seen by Curiosity. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU

Earth and Moon in the Martian evening sky, as seen by Curiosity. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/TAMU

The Curiosity rover has taken its first twilight image of Earth, and even the Moon, in the darkening Martian evening sky from its location in Gale crater. The photo was released today, February 6, 2014, by NASA.

The Earth appears as a tiny bluish speck of light, but still brighter than other stars. If you zoom in and look closely, you can also see the Moon, as a fainter speck of light to the lower-right of the Earth.

The image was taken about 80 minutes after sunset on sol 529 (January 31, 2014). If you were standing on Mars, the Earth and Moon would look like two evening stars, much how Mars or Venus for example look from Earth.

As well as being a “you are here” type of photo, for Curiosity it is a you were here image; that speck so far away is the home world, where Curiosity was built and then launched from. Amazing!

Other versions of the image are available here.

This article was first published on Examiner.com.

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The ‘firepit’ up close

The "firepit" rock formation  from sol 529. Credit: Click for larger version. NASA / JPL-Caltech

The “firepit” rock formation from sol 529. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Curiosity has taken some new images of the “firepit” rock formation at Dingo Gap. It looks similar to some of the “mud bubble” formations seen earlier in the mission, but is it the same thing or something different? We may not get to study it much more, since the rover is now ready to cross through the Gap and continue toward Mount Sharp. And so maybe somebody didn’t leave a real firepit here, but it’s still interesting in terms of Martian geology, especially since we now know that there used to once be a lot of water here…

The "firepit" rock formation  from sol 529. Credit: Click for larger version. NASA / JPL-Caltech

The “firepit” rock formation from sol 529. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The "firepit" rock formation  from sol 529. Credit: Click for larger version. NASA / JPL-Caltech

The “firepit” rock formation from sol 529. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

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Curiosity plays in a Martian sand dune

Close-up view of the edge of a Curiosity wheel track in the sand dune at Dingo Gap. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Close-up view of the edge of a Curiosity wheel track in the sand dune at Dingo Gap. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Curiosity has also been taking a lot of close-up images of the sand dune which the rover has “toe-dipped” into. The rover’s wheels have left very distinct impressions in the very fine-grained sand within the dune, while the outside of the dune has a denser “crust” covered with many small rounded grains, similar to other dunes seen by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. Whether or not Curiosity will actually drive through the dune (if deemed safe) to the other side of Dingo Gap or just go around hasn’t been decided yet, but in the meantime there are lots of new images to enjoy.

Close-up view of Curiosity wheel tracks impressions in the sand with the dune. Very fine detail can be seen such as in the lower right portion of the image. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Close-up view of Curiosity wheel tracks impressions in the sand with the dune. Very fine detail can be seen such as in the lower right portion of the image. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Close-up view of rounded grains on the surface of the sand dune. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Close-up view of rounded grains on the surface of the sand dune. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

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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

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New images: Dingo Gap and the ‘Firepit’

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Curiosity is now doing a complete examination of Dingo Gap, and sending back some beautiful new photos. The rover team hasn’t decided yet whether to try to cross though the largest sand dune which spreads across the middle of the Gap, and is about 1 metre (3 feet) tall. The dunes, cliffs and many different broken and jumbled rocks here make this a very scenic location. Of particular interest also is the “rock ring” beside the largest dune, and also now nicknamed by some as the “firepit” (thanks to Bill Dunford of the Riding with Robots blog for that!).

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of Dingo Gap on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of the "fire pit" from sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of the “firepit” on sol 527. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of the "fire pit" from sol 528. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of the “firepit” on sol 528. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of the "fire pit" from sol 528 (partial, lower left corner). Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

View of the “firepit” from sol 528 (partial, lower left corner of image). Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

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