Mars rover views spectacular layered rock formations
The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the "Murray Buttes" region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.
"Curiosity's science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
|This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows finely layered rocks within|
the "Murray Buttes" region on lower Mount Sharp [Credit: NASA]
"Studying these buttes up close has given us a better understanding of ancient sand dunes that formed and were buried, chemically changed by groundwater, exhumed and eroded to form the landscape that we see today," Vasavada said.
|This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows sloping buttes and layered |
outcrops within the "Murray Buttes" region on lower Mount Sharp [Credit: NASA]
In this location, the rover began its latest drilling campaign (on Sept. 9). After this drilling is completed, Curiosity will continue farther south and higher up Mount Sharp, leaving behind these spectacular formations.
On Mount Sharp, Curiosity is investigating how and when the habitable ancient conditions known from the mission's earlier findings evolved into conditions drier and less favorable for life.
Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory [September 10, 2016]