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The rim of Gale Crater is visible in the distance, through the dusty haze, in this Curiosity view of a sloping hillside on Mount Sharp Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Curiosity Rover Makes Its Way Up A Martian Mountain

SEPT. 9, 2016
Curiosity is making us giddy by showing us some of the most amazing vistas we have ever seen on Mars. The rover is exploring the neighborhood in between the "Murray Buttes" rock formations at the lower reaches of Mt. Sharp. As Curiosity makes her way south and up the Martian mountain, buttes (boxy shapes), mesas, rock walls, and cliff faces are giving us one heck of a photo scrapbook.
The plan so far has been to drive about 1/3 mile, stop to drill and drive again sampling the layers of the mountain as Curiosity makes her way up.

Follow her trek up the mountain with updates from the team.

See the latest raw images as she explores.
The rim of Gale Crater is visible in the distance, through the dusty haze, in this Curiosity view of a sloping hillside on Mount Sharp Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Travelling south through the "Murray Buttes," Curiosity captures the scenes as it heads through the valley studying the various targets along the way.
Curiosity viewed sloping buttes and layered outcrops as it exited the "Murray Buttes" region on lower Mount Sharp, Sept. 9, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
"Murray Buttes" is a beautiful place for exploring. It's like a garden for rock lovers. It has taken Curiosity four years to reach this place, but it looks well worth the trip!
This closeup view from NASA's Curiosity rover shows finely layered rocks, deposited by wind long ago as migrating sand dunes Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Wait, is this the Utah or Mars? Hello rock layers! These types of rock layers are common in the American desert Southwest. Like in Utah, layered sandstone tells us that once sand dunes were present. On Mars, it may have been three billion years ago!
Curiosity got close to this outcrop on Sept. 9, 2016, which displays finely layered rocks. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
These knobby features and rock yard look like they're right out of a place here on Earth. But wait, this is Mars! That little nodule of rock beckons us to come closer. It's a snapshot of an active time in Martian geology.
This view from Curiosity shows a dramatic hillside outcrop with sandstone layers that scientists refer to as "cross-bedding." Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Here's a partial view of one of the "Murray Buttes." It looks so much like similar buttes found in Utah and New Mexico. Road trip anyone? Curiosity is not just sightseeing, but also sampling the chemistry of the mudstone in the valley. The rover is trying to understand when Mars had environments able to support simple life forms, if any ever existed.