01.06.2017 Earth and Its Moon, as Seen From Mars
11.15.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, Stereo
11.03.2016 Schiaparelli Impact Site on Mars, in Color
03.30.2016 Erisa Hines
03.30.2016 Buzz Aldrin
03.21.2016 For a Decade Orbiting Mars: One Recent View
03.09.2016 For a Decade Orbiting Mars: One Recent View
03.09.2016 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter By the Numbers
03.01.2016 MRO sees Frosty Spring Slopes
02.12.2016 Women in Science
02.10.2016 Wind at Work
11.16.2015 Change Observed in Martian Sand Dune
10.05.2015 'The Martian' Story's Ares 4 Landing Site
10.05.2015 The Ares 3 Landing Site (Figure A)
09.30.2015 Avalanche Ho!
06.29.2015 Mars Exploration Zone Layout Considerations
06.17.2015 Active High-Latitude Dune Gullies
06.03.2015 Crisp Crater in Sirenum Fossae
05.20.2015 Sedimentary Rock Layers on a Crater Floor
05.20.2015 Honey, I Shrunk the Mesas
05.11.2015 Icy Wonderland
05.04.2015 Diverse Orbits Around Mars
03.27.2015 South Pole Spiders
03.27.2015 A Smile a Day....
03.25.2015 Pitted Landforms in Southern Hellas Planitia
03.12.2015 Curiosity Heading Away from 'Pahrump Hills'
02.18.2015 Lava Flow Near the Base of Olympus Mons
02.09.2015 Yardangs in Arsinoes Chaos, Mars
02.04.2015 Curiosity Rover at 'Pahrump Hills'
01.22.2015 Frost on Crater Slope
01.16.2015 Components of Beagle 2 Flight System on Mars
12.03.2014 An Enigmatic Feature in Athabasca Lava Flows
12.02.2014 NASA's Journey to Mars
11.07.2014 Mars Orbiter Sizes Up Passing Comet
10.19.2014 Siding Spring Mars Spacecraft
Curiosity and Rover Tracks at 'the Kimberley,' April 2014NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and tracks from its driving are visible in this view from orbit, acquired on April 11, 2014, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The rover is near the largest butte in the lower left quadrant of the image, at about a two o'clock position relative to the butte. It appears bright blue in the exaggerated color of this image.
The multi-layered location filling much of the left half of this image is called "the Kimberley." Curiosity's science team chose it, based on other HiRISE images, as a potential gold mine for the rover mission. Black gold, that is, as organic material that, if found at the Kimberley could be a biomarker (sign of past life) -- the holy grail of Mars exploration.
In December 2013, at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger talked about what the mission had learned that year in a location called "Yellowknife Bay," and why the team was planning to stop Curiosity and drill again at the Kimberley. Mudstones that Curiosity drilled and analyzed at Yellowknife Bay had been exposed at the Martian surface for less than 100 million years, which is relatively recent, geologically speaking. Scientists deduced that this was due to erosion of overlying layers by the wind, and that even younger exposure ages should be possible closer to an eroding scarp. This matters because Mars doesn't have a magnetosphere and thick atmosphere like Earth's, which protect us from energetic particles from space that break down organic material. Thus, rocks that have been near the surface of Mars longer (on geological time scales) are less likely to contain complex organic material. Complex organic material might be the remains of past life, or at least inform us about past habitability. Habitability is the potential to support life, whether or not life ever actually existed there.
By late 2013, Curiosity had left Yellowknife Bay and wasn't going to turn around, but similar scarps lay ahead, on the way to the mission's long-term destinations on lower slopes of Mount Sharp (also known as Aeolis Mons). The team had already chosen Curiosity's next major target: the Kimberley. This location, where Curiosity arrived in early April 2014, has what appear to be geologically young scarps. This HiRISE image shows the rover close to one of the scarps.
Curiosity entered the area included in this image on March 12, along the tracks visible near the upper left corner. The distance between parallel wheel tracks is about 9 feet (2.7 meters). The area included in the image is about 1,200 feet (about 365 meters) wide. This view is an enhanced-color product from HiRISE observation ESP_036128_1755, available at the HiRISE website at http://uahirise.org/releases/msl-kimberley.php. The exaggerated color, to make differences in Mars surface materials more apparent, makes Curiosity appear bluer than the rover really looks. A stereo view combining information from this observation with topography derived from earlier HiRISE observations, for a three-dimensional appearance, is at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18082.
A rover's-eye view taken by Curiosity from the location where the rover is seen in this image is online at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18083.
HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Science Laboratory projects for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona