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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Curiosity lights up at night

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LED lights on Curiosity illuminate the second drill hole and laser shot holes at the Cumberland drilling site. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

This is a cool new photo from Curiosity, showing the rover working doing the martian night. In this image, the LED lights on the rover illuminate the second drill hole in bedrock at the Cumberland drilling site on sol 292 (June 2, 2013). Smaller laser shot holes can also be seen beside the drill hole. It would be nice to see a photo of the entire rover with its lights on too, standing out in the otherwise pitch darkness…

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Curiosity rover completes second drilling at ‘Cumberland’

The Cumberland drill hole. Like with the previous drilling, the powdered rock material is gray compared to the reddish colour on the surface. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
The Cumberland drill hole. Like with the previous drilling, the powdered rock material is gray compared to the reddish colour on the surface.
Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

After successfully coming out of solar conjunction late last month, the Curiosity rover has resumed its science activities, beginning with the second drilling into bedrock, it was reported yesterday. This location, a piece of bedrock called “Cumberland,” is only about 2.75 metres (9 feet) west of the first drill site, called “John Klein.”

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