Cluster of Martian Mesas on Lower Mount Sharp, Sols 1438 and 1439The mesa in the center of this scene from the "Murray Buttes" area on Mars' lower Mount Sharp is longer than a football field. It extends more than 361 feet (110 meters) from the left-most outcrop low on the slope to the right side where rock debris is behind a light-toned, dust-covered dune.
The panorama combines sets of images taken by the left-eye camera of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, for the left half of the scene, and by Mastcam's right-eye camera for the right half of the scene. The component images from the left-eye camera were taken on Aug. 22, 2016, during the 1,438th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars. The ones from the right-eye camera, which has a telephoto lens, were taken the following day, on Sol 1439.
From the rover's position when the component images were taken, the top of the central mesa is about 310 feet (about 95 meters) away and about 52 feet (about 16 meters) above the rover.
The relatively flat foreground is part of a geological layer called the Murray formation, which includes lakebed mud deposits. The buttes and mesas rising above this surface are eroded remnants of ancient sandstone that originated when winds deposited sand after lower Mount Sharp had formed. They are capped by material that is relatively resistant to erosion, just as is the case with many similarly shaped buttes and mesas on Earth.
The scene is presented with a color adjustment that approximates white balancing, to resemble how the rocks and sand would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth.
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Mastcam. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover. For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS