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.

Read MoreMore of those weird ‘bubbles’ seen by Curiosity rover

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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Martian meteorite contains clay with chemical needed for life

Electron microscope image of some of the clay veins in the Martian meteorite MIL 090030, which contain boron. Credit: University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI)
Electron microscope image of some of the clay veins in the Martian meteorite MIL 090030, which contain boron. Credit: University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI)

The many orbiters, landers and rovers have, and continue to, send back an increasing wealth of information about Mars. Sometimes though, we are lucky enought to have a piece of Mars come to us instead. A bunch of Martian meteorites have been found over the years, in places like Antarctica. They offer a unique, hands-on peek into the geological history of the Red Planet. Now, one of them has yielded more clues to the possibility of life having started there, it was reported on June 11, 2013.

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Opportunity rover continues trek towards clay ‘holy grail’

Looking ahead: Cape Tribulation and Solander Point beckon in the distance. Click for larger view. Credit: NASA / JLP-Caltech
Looking ahead: Cape Tribulation and Solander Point beckon in the distance. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA / JLP-Caltech

While Curiosity has been hogging a lot of attention lately, the Opportunity rover is still roving away elsewhere on Mars (since 2004!). Kind of like the Energizer bunny, it just keeps going and going and going…

Read MoreOpportunity rover continues trek towards clay ‘holy grail’

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.

Read MoreScientists confirm Curiosity rover’s discovery of ancient Martian streambed