Postcard from Mars – the view from Curiosity on sol 409

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Panoramic image of the view from Curiosity on sol 409. Click image for link to larger version.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

As it continues to make its way to Mount Sharp, the Curiosity rover has been sending back to Earth some amazing images of the Martian surface. This latest “postcard” panoramic image by Damia Bouic is a montage of some of these latest photos, from sol 409. Part of the rim of Gale crater can be seen in the distance. Larger versions of the image (black & white and colour) can be seen here¬†(French website). Thanks again to Damia for the use of her images, which beautifully capture the Martian scenery; the next best thing to actually being there! The rest of his Curiosity images can be seen here.

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This Mars rock has teeth

Part of the rock outcrop called Cooperstown. Interesting pointed protrusions can be seen. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Part of the rock outcrop called Cooperstown. Interesting pointed protrusions can be seen in this Mastcam image from sol 440. Click image for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

As the Curiosity rover currently inspects a rock outcrop called Cooperstown, this rock seems to be baring its teeth. Some interesting pointed protrusions can be seen near the middle and lower right of the image. Below is a closeup of one of these teeth-like protrusions. Fossilized Martian shark teeth? No, probably not, but they are an intriguing feature for sure.

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Will Curiosity find new clues to ancient Martian habitability, or perhaps even life, at Hematite Ridge?

Hematite ridge, as seen from near Curiosity's landing site, a few kilometres away. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / annotated by A. Fraeman
Hematite Ridge, as seen from near Curiosity’s landing site, a few kilometres away. Click on image for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / annotated by A. Fraeman

As the Curiosity rover gets ever closer to its major destination of Mount Sharp, there is an interesting feature there which has become a priority target, one which may help scientists to further study the past habitability of this area, or even provide possible clues to life itself.

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Curiosity rover completes first year on Mars

View from Curiosity on sol 343 looking towards some of the foothills of Mount Sharp in the distance. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
View from Curiosity on sol 343 looking towards some of the foothills of Mount Sharp in the distance. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover has successfully finished its first full year on Mars it was announced yesterday, with already some amazing discoveries and a ton of scientific data to show for it. Late in the evening on August 5, 2012 PT (August 6, 2012 ET), Curiosity descended to the ground via the most complex landing technique ever attempted on Mars, the skycrane. Many things could have gone wrong as the car-sized rover hung from the long tethers during the nail-biting descent, but happily it turned out to be a near-perfect landing.

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Curiosity rover at Shaler rock outcrop

Front Hazcam image of Shaler on sol 313. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Front Hazcam image of Shaler on sol 313. Mount Sharp is in the background. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Curiosity is now back at the intriguing Shaler rock outcrop, after having initially passed it during its first trip into Yellowknife Bay in Gale crater. Shaler consists largely of “stepped” flat rock slabs which stand out from the surrounding rocks and soil. It’s origin isn’t known yet, but may be connected to the fact that this area was once very wet, with flowing streams and possibly a lake, according to findings so far by the rover.¬†Curiosity’s findings here should be interesting, and then the journey begins to the layered foothills, buttes and mesas of Mount Sharp!

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More of those weird ‘bubbles’ seen by Curiosity rover

"Bubble" feature from sol 309. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Cropped Mastcam image of “bubble” feature from sol 309. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

As Curiosity starts moving towards Mount Sharp again, a few more of those odd “bubble” features have been seen. The most obvious ones are oval-shaped, with raised rims, and appear to be a bit larger than some others seen previously. Like the others though, they sort of look like frothy bubbles which have “popped” and then hardened. How they formed is still a mystery which hopefully Curiosity can shed some more light on.

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Curiosity images of Point Lake

Point Lake rock outcrop. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Point Lake rock outcrop. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Some nice new MAHLI and Mastcam images of the rock outcrop Point Lake, taken by Curiosity as it starts its long drive to Mount Sharp. Lots of interesting small holes and nodules. Click images for larger versions. Further analysis should determine whether these rocks are sedimentary or volcanic in origin. All Curiosity raw images are available here.

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Scientists confirm Curiosity rover’s discovery of ancient Martian streambed

One of the conglomerate rock outcrops, called Hottah, which contains embedded streambed gravel. Other gravel lies loose on the ground nearby. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
One of the conglomerate rock outcrops, called Hottah, which contains embedded streambed gravel. Other gravel lies loose on the ground nearby.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

As announced¬†a while ago, one of the most exciting discoveries by the¬†Curiosity rover¬†on¬†Mars¬†so far has been an apparent ancient streambed which once flowed right through the landing site. Now, additional examination of the evidence confirms that it is what it seemed to be –¬†a very old, now long-dry, riverbed.

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