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This early-morning view from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on March 16, 2016, covers a portion of the inner wall of Gale Crater. At right, the image fades into glare of the rising sun. Details such as gullies and debris fans help geologists understand processes that shaped the crater.
04.27.2016

Northern Portion of Gale Crater Rim Viewed from 'Naukluft Plateau'

This early-morning view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover covers a field of view of about 130 degrees of the inner wall of Gale Crater. It was acquired during a period when there was very little dust or haze in the atmosphere, so conditions were optimal for long-distance imaging. The right side of the image fades into the glare of the rising sun.

Mastcam's right-eye camera, which has a telephoto lens, took the component images on March 16, 2016, during the 1,284th sol, or Martian day, of Curiosity's work on Mars. The rover's location was on the "Naukluft Plateau" of lower Mount Sharp, inside Gale Crater. The view spans from west-northwest on the left to northeast on the right. Details of the morphology (shape and pattern of features) on the wall, which include gullies, channels and debris fans help geologists understand the processes that have shaped the crater and transported sediments -- sand, pebbles and larger rocks -- down to the floor of the crater. Some of the foothills show layers morphologically not unlike the layers Curiosity is exploring near the base of Mount Sharp, suggesting that the crater was filled along the north wall with sediments that have in large part now been eroded away, much as happened closer to Mount Sharp.

The scene is presented with a color adjustment that approximates white balancing, to resemble how the terrain would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth.

Figure A includes labels on three peaks of the crater wall, for scale and position reference. The peak labeled "A," near the left end of the panorama, is at azimuth 291.8 degrees east of north and 18.1 miles (29.1 kilometers) away from the rover's position. It rises about 6,200 feet (1,900 meters) above the closest point on the floor of the crater. Peak "B," at azimuth 357.2 degrees east of north (or 2.8 degrees from north), is about 17.6 miles (28.4 kilometers) away and rises about 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) above the base of its foothills. Peak "C," at azimuth 33.6 degrees east of north, is about 27.3 miles (45.5 kilometers) distant and rises about 6,200 feet (1,900 meters) above the base of its foothills.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover and its Navcam. For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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