NASA’s Curiosity Rover has revealed never-seen-before images of Mount Sharp, the central peak adorning Gale Crater with a height of around 5.5 km on planet Mars. More interestingly, the photographs are coloured ones, giving us the opportunity to understand rock formation further.
The new images date from September 8. The precise location where they were taken was in the Murray Buttes area situated in the lower regions of Mount Sharp. The latter was spotted for the first time in the 1970s. Scientists describe it as layers of eroded sediment emanating from ancient sandstone of Mars that have formed over 2 billion years. The Murray Buttes region consists of small rocky plateaus known as buttes and mesas. These geographical features are also found on Earth. Buttes are usually taller and less wide when compared to mesas. The recently-taken images provide a more detailed view of the landscape consisting of the Martian buttes and mesas.
Detailed knowledge of these features is thought to pave the way to a broader understanding of sand dunes that existed in the distant past.
“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,” says Curiosity project scientist, Ashwin Vasavada.
NASA now plans to use the images to create large, colour mosaics.
The next stage of the mission is for Curiosity to move higher up Mount Sharp.