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.
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!
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.
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.