August 19, 2012

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 […]
August 13, 2012

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, […]
August 11, 2012

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 […]
August 10, 2012

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. […]
August 6, 2012

Last night I said it couldn’t be done

A piece of Mars: Last night I said it couldn’t be done. But here it is, a HiRISE image of Curiosity descending towards its landing spot in Gale crater. From this image it has been determined that Curiosity landed a […]
August 3, 2012

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 […]
July 30, 2012

Double trouble

A piece of Mars: Bright dunes once marched through the depression created by a double impact. How can you tell the dunes are no longer moving? Because one of them has its own little crater sitting on it. A mobile […]
July 29, 2012

Wind erodes rocks into swirls

A piece of Mars: When the wind sandblasts at layered rocks, some pretty swirly patterns emerge. These are flat layers that take on a stacked wedding-cake appearance on an outcrop elongated by the wind. The direction of the stacks indicates […]
July 26, 2012

And then the wind swept through

A piece of Mars: Wind streaks are a common sight on Mars. They are formed either by the wind blowing stuff away or blowing stuff in, and it can be quite difficult to tell which is which. In this case, […]