Monday, March 3, 2014

NASA Curiosity rover captures spectacular Mount Sharp from Junda rocks

Martian landscape scene with rows of striated rocks in the foreground and spectacular Mount Sharp on the horizon. 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover paused mid drive at the Junda outcrop to snap the component images for this coloured navcam camera photomosaic on Sol 548 (Feb. 19, 2014) and then continued traveling southwards towards mountain base. 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover's UHF Antenna are visoble on the very right of the picture. 

Credit: NASA /JPL-Caltech /Marco Di Lorenzo /Ken Kremer

Like any good tourist, NASA's rover Curiosity apparently couldn't resist the photobug urge from a gorgeous Martian mountain scene she happened by recently and decided to pull over and enjoy the view.

So she stopped the dune buggy mid-drive on the sandy road to her daily destination one Sol last week on Feb. 19, powered up the camera suite and excitedly snapped a spectacular landscape view of a striated rock field dramatically back dropped by towering Mount Sharp on the horizon.

The sedimentary foothills of Mount Sharp, which reaches 3.4 miles (5.5 km) into the Martian sky, is the 1 ton robots ultimate destination inside Gale Crater because it holds caches of water altered minerals.

And just for good measure, Curiosity also snapped a series of breathtaking look back photos showing her tracks in the dune filled terrain from whence she came since straddling through the Dingo Gap gateway.

The panoramic mountain view taken on Sol 548 shows rows of striated rocks all oriented in a similar direction in the foreground with Mount Sharp in the background.

Scientists directed Curiosity to drive by the rock rows nicknamed "Junda" after their interest was piqued by orbital images taken by the powerful telescopic camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) circling overhead.

The six wheeled rover paused during the planned Feb. 19 drive of 328 feet (100 meters) to capture the imagery.

She then pushed forward to finish the day's drive and snapped another fabulous look back view – see our mosaic below.

And the next day on Feb. 20 (Sol 549), she also completed her second 100 meter drive in reverse.

Her handlers are occasionally commanding Curiosity to drive backwards in a newly tested bid to minimize serious damage to the six 20 inch diameter wheels in the form of rips and tears caused by rough edged Red Planet rocks.

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