vendredi 19 août 2016

Full-Circle Vista from NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Shows 'Murray Buttes'

NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

August 19, 2016

Image above: This 360-degree vista was acquired on Aug. 5, 2016, by the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover as the rover neared features called "Murray Buttes" on lower Mount Sharp. The dark, flat-topped mesa seen to the left of the rover's arm is about 50 feet high and, near the top, about 200 feet wide. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Eroded mesas and buttes reminiscent of the U.S. Southwest shape part of the horizon in the latest 360-degree color panorama from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.

The rover used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) to capture dozens of component images of this scene on Aug. 5, 2016, four years after Curiosity's landing inside Gale Crater.

The visual drama of Murray Buttes along Curiosity's planned route up lower Mount Sharp was anticipated when the site was informally named nearly three years ago to honor Caltech planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013), a former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL manages the Curiosity mission for NASA.

Image above: This July 22, 2016, stereo scene from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover shows boulders at a site called "Bimbe" on lower Mount Sharp. They contain pebble-size and larger rock fragments. The image appears three dimensional when viewed through red-blue glasses with the red lens on the left. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

The buttes and mesas are capped with rock that is relatively resistant to wind erosion. This helps preserve these monumental remnants of a layer that formerly more fully covered the underlying layer that the rover is now driving on.

Animation above: NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover at Murray Buttes (360 View). Animation credits: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Early in its mission on Mars, Curiosity accomplished its main goal when it found and examined an ancient habitable environment. In an extended mission, the rover is examining successively younger layers as it climbs the lower part of Mount Sharp. A key goal is to learn how freshwater lake conditions, which would have been favorable for microbes billions of years ago if Mars has ever had life, evolved into harsher, arid conditions much less suited to supporting life. The mission is also monitoring the modern environment of Mars.

These findings have been addressing high-priority goals for planetary science and further aid NASA's preparations for a human mission to the Red Planet.

For more information about Curiosity, visit: and

Images (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Dwayne Brown/Laurie Cantillo/Tony Greicius/JPL/Guy Webster.


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