The dunes near Curiosity

A piece of Gale crater, Mars: Here are some of the large, dark dunes not far from where Curiosity has landed. They’re pretty big monsters, 200-300 meters across. Their shape indicates they’ve been formed from two different wind directions: one blowing from the north and one from the ENE. These are the winds that Curiosity

What is Mt. Sharp?

A piece of Gale crater, Mars: What exactly is Mt. Sharp, the big mountain Curiosity is set to climb up? Here’s a picture of what it is: layers and layers and layers and layers. And more layers. Probably sedimentary, but also possibly with some volcanic ash. Each layer tells its own story about some period

Curiosity’s Grand Canyon

A piece of Gale crater, Mars (Aug. 13, 2012): Here is the wall of a large ravine cut into Mt. Sharp, the mountain of layered and eroded sediments that Curiosity will climb. Long ago, this ravine was cut by water, much as the Grand Canyon was, revealing the seemingly endless set of layers that built

In Curiosity’s channel

A piece of Gale crater, Mars (Aug 11, 2012): This is a tiny portion of the ancient river channel that Curiosity will use to climb up Mt. Sharp in the coming year. It’s a fascinating place, full of pale fractured rocks and partially buried by bluish-gray sand and ripples. (HiRISE ESP_025935_1750)

And the wind blew

A piece of Gale crater, Mars: These are rocks on Mount Sharp, where the Curiosity rover will be headed in the coming months. Like many of the surfaces in Gale crater, these have been streamlined by sandblasting over the eons. (HiRISE PSP_009861_1755)

A beautiful tangle

A piece of Mars: Compare this with my post five days ago and you might think the scenes are similar. In fact they’re not. In the previous case sedimentary layers were carved out by the wind, leaving behind swirly patterns where resistant layers created relief. Here, the swirly patterns are inherent in the rock. These