NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars is busy surveying its surroundings.
The rover is driving from a flatter area where it worked for several months after landing in 2012 to the slopes of a mountain 3 miles (5 kilometers) high, Mount Sharp.
Pressing forward, Curiosity is due to drive through the newly named “Murray Buttes” (named after the late planetary scientist, Bruce Murray) at the base of the mountain.
This site features a cluster of small, steep-sided knobs, up to about the size of a football field and the height of a goal post. They sit in a gap in a band of dark sand dunes that lie at the foot of the mountain. Deep sand could present a hazard for driving, so this break in the dunes is the access path to the mountain.
NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity inside Gale Crater to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions.
By Leonard David